Money Transfer for Inheritance

Guide to Inheriting Money from Overseas:

Inheritance from an Overseas Family Member

 There are plenty of commonly held misconceptions about inheriting money from overseas and then transferring this money back home. Our guide below looks at inheritance tax regulations in the US and UK specifically to give you some insight into the rules surrounding transferring inherited money and assets across borders.

With an array of fine print into the rules surrounding transferring inherited money and assets across borders, it can be difficult for those with assets held abroad to know which are subject to inheritance tax and which aren't. Many British nationals who have emigrated assume – incorrectly – that their tax liabilities are altered because of their change in residence.

Luckily for you, we're here to offer guidance on some of the most frequent pitfalls involved in inheriting money and assets from family members abroad. 

Compare the best providers to transfer an inheritance internationally


What inheritance tax rules apply in the UK when a relative dies abroad?

Basically, four rules on inheritance tax typically apply when someone living abroad dies and leaves money to a relative back in the UK. These are: where they were domiciled, whether or not they have any excluded assets, the location of their assets, and if the assets were "settled" – that is, placed in trust.

Generally speaking, a person is domiciled in the country where their permanent home is located. As such, someone can normally only have one domicile at any given time. People can choose to be domiciled outside of the UK if they meet two criteria: they are at least 16 years old and they've left the UK in order to settle permanently in another country. 

Essentially, HMRC will treat you as being domiciled in the UK if you either lived in the UK for 15 of the last 20 years, or had your permanent home in the UK at any time in the last 3 years of your life. As of April 2017 the rules surrounding domicile have changed, so  it’s a good idea to brush up on inheritance tax laws by looking at the UK government’s website

It's also important to note that HMRC won't recognise a change of domicile unless there's strong evidence that the person in question has severed ties with the UK and genuinely intends to live abroad indefinitely. This could mean owning a property abroad, working in another country and sending their children to an overseas school.


What assets are subject to inheritance tax for UK tax rules?

When it comes to settled assets, any outside the UK that were placed in trust while the settlor – or the person who set up the trust – was domiciled in the UK are subject to inheritance tax. However, inheritance tax isn't payable on some assets situated in this country for people domiciled abroad, such as British government securities (provided the person wasn't ordinarily a UK resident), non-sterling bank or Post Office account, and holdings in open-ended investment companies and authorised unit trusts.


Estate taxes in the US

In the US, The Estate Tax is the tax assessed on property transferred at a person’s death. The fair market value of these items is used, which may be very different to what was originally paid for the assets. The total of these assets is your "Gross Estate" which can include cash and securities, real estate, insurance, trusts, annuities, business interests and other assets.

Certain deductions are allowed to get to the value of the "Taxable Estate", which could include mortgages and other debts, estate administration expenses and qualified charities. According to the US IRS website, once this net amount is calculated, the value of lifetime taxable gifts (starting with gifts made in 1977) is added to this number and the tax is computed. The available unified credit may then reduce the tax. Filings are required depending on the size of the estate.

All the information provided above is simply guidance in line with current information on the UK and US government websites as of December 2022.  Care should be taken to receive formal advice on any estate or inheritance planning before you consider transferring money received from inheritance overseas.


To find the right money transfer provider to suit your needs, take a look at our reviews.

Compare International Money Transfer Companies

Currency Converter is an fx money comparison site for international money transfer and to compare rates from currency brokers for sending money abroad. The website and the information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer, solicitation or advice on any financial service or transaction. None of the information presented is intended to form the basis for any investment decision, and no specific recommendations are intended.  FXC Group Ltd and FX Compared Ltd does not provide any guarantees of any data from third parties listed on this website. FX compared Ltd expressly disclaims any and all responsibility for any direct or consequential loss or damage of any kind whatsoever arising directly or indirectly from (i) any error, omission or inaccuracy in any such information or (ii) any action resulting therefrom.