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What to Do If Someone Dies Abroad

View profile for Elizabeth Young
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When a loved one dies abroad it can be difficult to know where to start, particularly if you are new to the estate administration process and are having to deal with an unfamiliar system in stressful circumstances.

Who should you inform when someone dies abroad?

When someone dies abroad, you should contact the British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission in the country where the person died. They will be able to advise and assist you with the registration of the death, and help you contact the local authorities who should also be notified of the death, in case any further investigations need to be conducted.

In the event that the death was as a result of an accident, then the estate may have the right to bring a claim for fatal injury on behalf of the deceased. If this is the case, then you would need to seek legal advice in the UK on behalf of the estate from a personal injury lawyer.

Registering the death

All deaths must be registered in the country where the person died. The British authorities in the country will be able to help you register the death with the relevant local authorities. A local death certificate will then be issued; this death certificate will be accepted by the British authorities, although a legalised translation may have to be obtained before it can be used. It is possible for us to arrange for documents to be translated on your behalf.


A difficult decision will have to be made about whether to repatriate the deceased back to the UK for a burial or cremation, or whether to have a local funeral arranged in the country in which they died. Depending on where they died, there may be specific traditions or customs which dictate how the deceased’s funeral is held and how the body is disposed of.

If you would like for the body to be repatriated back to the UK, it is likely that a Letter of Repatriation will need to be produced to authorities in the country where the person died before the body can be released and repatriated. The Letter of Repatriation is complicated and often needs drafting to suit the circumstances surrounding the person’s death.

Dealing with their estate

We can provide assistance and advice irrelevant of whether the assets of the deceased’s estate are located in the UK, another jurisdiction or if there are assets located in a number of different countries.

If the deceased has an asset or assets located in another country, then it may be that a Power of Attorney needs producing, authorising somebody in the country where they died to deal with that property on behalf of the estate. It may also mean that specific advice with regard to the deceased’s domicile and Inheritance Tax position in the country where assets are located is required.

It can be a daunting and worrying process handling the death of somebody who has died abroad. Roythornes has the expertise to be able to guide you through the process in all of the areas mentioned above and to provide comprehensive advice in relation to the various elements involved in dealing with a death abroad and the subsequent estate administration.