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Inheriting Australian and New Zealand shares

If you are dealing with the inheritance of shares held in Australian or New Zealand companies – such as shares in Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Brambles or ANZ Bank for instance – you will need to follow the relevant process so that the inherited shares can be transferred or sold.

If the shares are in an Australian company, you will need to understand the requirements of the share registrar in Australia, whether it be Link Market Services, Computershare or another registrar.

The process required will depend on the value of the shares. The Australian share registrar will have a certain value limit, above which they will require you to apply for an Australian Grant of Probate or (if a Grant of probate has been issued in another country such as in the UK) reseal a grant of probate in Australia. Therefore you will need to instruct a lawyer in Australia to assist you with this.

The situation is similar in New Zealand. The registrars for the New Zealand company that the shares are held in will require a Grant of Probate in New Zealand or a resealed grant of probate in New Zealand before they will take instructions to sell or transfer the shares the executors or beneficiaries, if the value of the shares is above a certain amount. A lawyer in New Zealand should be instructed to handle the process. The most common shareholdings in New Zealand are dealt with by share registrars Link Market Services and Computershare but the situation is similar for other registrars too.

The process of resealing in Australia or New Zealand is only available where the original grant of probate was issued in a country where the Queen of the United Kingdom is the head of state. These are: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, United Kingdom.

Where the process of ‘resealing’ is not available, a full application for a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration be required in Australia or New Zealand (wherever the shares are located). Worldwide Lawyers regularly assist beneficiaries of executors who are dealing with the shares in the name of a deceased person in Australia and New Zealand.

Contact worldwide lawyers on 01244 470339 or info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk for more information about dealing with the inheritance of shares in Australia or New Zealand. Worldwide Lawyers can assist with resealing a Grant of Probate from any of the above countries as well as assisting where a reseal is not available.

Often, when dealing with the inheritance of Australian and New Zealand shares it will not immediately be apparent to you or the share registrar that a reseal is required or available, and you may therefore be asked by the share registrar in to fill in documentation. It is advisable to seek legal advice before filling in any paperwork requested by the share registrar or bank as this can cause unnecessary complications further down the line in some circumstances. Your lawyer in Australia or New Zealand will also be able to offer you guidance and assistance relating to any capital gains tax owed.

If the plan is for the shares to be sold, consideration should be given to whether any currency exchange will be required and the effect that this will have on the amounts received by the beneficiaries. If Australian shares are sold, the sale proceeds will be in Australian dollars. If New Zealand shares are sold the sale proceeds will be in New Zealand dollars. If those sale proceeds will need to be transferred to someone in another country, in another currency, careful consideration should be given to how you will deal with the currency exchange. Failure to do so can deplete the proceeds of the sale considerable and unnecessarily.

Worldwide Lawyers always recommends to anyone who will be receiving or transferring funds between currencies that they speak with a currency specialist as early as possible. A good currency specialist will be able to assist you with ensuring that you get the best currency rate when repatriating funds received after selling Australian shares or New Zealand shares. For more information about how currency exchange companies can save you up to five per cent of the amount transferred, compared to using a high street bank, read our article: When should you consider using a currency exchange specialist?

Worldwide Lawyers will be happy to recommend a suitable currency specialist who can assist you with getting the best exchange rate when repatriating the proceeds from the sale of shares in Australia or New Zealand. The services of the currency specialist are free.
In Australia and New Zealand, most shares are bought and sold through the global share registry Link Market Services. If you choose the sell your shares, it’s important that you keep copies of your acquisition and disposal statements (i.e. the ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ contracts) and your dividend statements.

If you need advice on inheriting shares from Australia or New Zealand, contact Worldwide Lawyers on 01244 470 339 or email us at info@worldwidelawyers.co.uk. Our friendly and knowledgeable team will be able to put you in touch with a lawyer in Australia and New Zealand who have experience in the inheritance of Australian and New Zealand shares.