Sealed and Certified Grants – Common Errors

07 May 2021


In my continuing series on items that can delay probate, the probate office have indicated to me that one area that practitioners trip up on, is the sealed and certified grants of foreign jurisdictions. If a person dies abroad and the foreign will has been proved in another jurisdiction, then the application in Ireland is a grant of probate application in the normal course. (It may be a will annexed application, if the original grant was will annexed or the executor has died in the meantime). The documents to be supplied are a sealed and certified grant and a sealed and certified will. The certification is the normal certification issued by the local probate registrar indicating the grant and will are true copies of the original. The seal, is the embossed seal of the local office. This must be impressed on each document (like a company seal).

Most common law systems contain a grant of probate requirement for proving wills (eg England, Australia, Northern Ireland, USA, etc). It appears that certified copy grants or wills only are being attached in those cases (tut tut tut). We find that it is relatively straight forward in obtaining the necessary documents from foreign jurisdictions. When writing to the local probate office, you must stress that you require a sealed and certified grant and also a sealed and certified will. Sometimes what comes back is a sealed and certified grant, but the will is an official copy but without the seal.

If the will has not been proved by a foreign jurisdiction then you should be using the original foreign will and so the question of a sealed and certified copy should not arise.

For civil law jurisdictions, there tends not to be the same proving system, as in common law countries. Normally a will is registered by a notary through his or her local office. In these cases you are proving the official version of the will as certified by the notary who made the will.

For US cases, not all wills are proved. However, I find that the local registry of the county of the State involved of a will once proved are helpful in issuing sealed and certified copies both of wills and grants. Normally US based clients are able to organise this or this can be organised through a US attorney.

With respect to English grants, obtaining sealed and certified copied grants and wills tend not to be a problem. The only issue we have had recently, was where the grant was conducted by a personal application (not through a solicitor) the individual who applied for the grant was the person who was obliged to obtain a sealed and certified copy, which caused considerable delay, in that the client was unaware of the need to have both grant and will sealed.

The above comments also apply with respect to Jersey, or Isle of Man grants and wills.