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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
Please accept my sincere condolences on the loss of your son.
Could you advise what evidence you have found to suggest he had a holding with the bank please?
A savings pass book
Thank you. For the avoidance of doubt the sterling equivalent is according to the pass book +/- £1500?
That is correct
Thanks. I need to highlight what in a sense if the obvious which is that I am an English lawyer specialising in private client matters which includes cross jurisdictional probate claims however necessarily my knowledge of Chines succession law is only the basics. I will not be able to advise you on detailed Chinese procedure but I do know the basics and the general succession laws there. Are you happy to continue on this basis?
The main question we want answering is can we proceed in this country and what would be the total cost?
Thanks. Chinese succession law provides that for moveable property (i.e. money) the succession law of the country in which your son was domiciled applies. In the assumption he was domiciled in the UK this would mean that Chinese law would respect English succession law and the money would go to the appropriate beneficiary in the UK.
However there is no treaty between the UK and China as regards XXXXX XXXXX arrangements and China does not accept a UK issued foreign grant of probate.
What this means is that there is no straightforward process whereby you can simply obtain a foreign grant of probate from the probate registry for resealing by the Foreign Office and submit it to the bank in China as is possible with many countries which do have reciprocal arrangements with the UK.
Instead you will need to apply to the local court with jurisdiction for the bank to enter in your sons will or alternatively if he made no will prove succession rights under the UK intestacy rules. Whilst this is not overly difficult it does require retaining a Chinese lawyer to prepare the necessary submission documents and notarise them and present the application to the court. This inevitably incurs fees.
The concern I would have is whether the fees and time involved would be justified in view of the amount in question.
Of course costs including legal costs are much lower in China and so it may very well be however English speaking lawyers acting for UK clients will typically leverage a higher fee than local chinese speaking lawyers acting for locals.
Have you obtained a grant of probate in the UK to date?
No there was no property involved and what little money there was, was transferred without problem.
Thanks. I believe I am correct (but would defer to a Chinese lawyers opinion on this as they may know a way around it) that you would need to obtain a grant of probate first in the UK before you could make the above application to the Chines courts. This is very straightforward and should cost no more than £50-75 in total but of course it is more paperwork to complete and there is a cost element to it and it is another potential hurdle for you to jump through.
What I would suggest you do is consider contacting one or two English speaking lawyers in Beijing to ascertain what their likely fees would be for assisting you with a succession claim for your sons account. If the fees are prohibitive this will likely make your decision for you but if you feel the fees do allow you to justify pursuing the claim and you are willing to spend the time involved then you may wish to proceed. In particular you will wish to ask whether they know of a way of pursuing a claim without obtaining grant of probate in the UK.
They may know of a trick to get around this requirement - I am not aware of one but as above my knowledge Chines succession procedure is limited to the relative basics. On the positive side China has no inheritance tax or transfer tax so whatever is in the account less legal costs will come to you
There is a list of potential Bejing based english speaking lawyer firms here:
Is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX clarified the situation for which we are grateful, it was clear and concise.