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Probate Problem - foreign marriage

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Sorry if this isn't the place but I couldn't find an appropriate sub-forum.



I have a very frustrating problem at the moment and I wonder if anyone can help.

My father recently died and my brother and I are joint executors of his Will, together with being the main beneficiaries.

In 2006-2008 my father went to Cuba on holiday on a few occasions and on one of his trips married a Cuban. She never moved to the UK and he never moved to Cuba – it was more a marriage of convenience for my father to be able to visit without problems with immigration out there. My father has not seen her since 2008 and has never provided for her financially. He has left her a small token in his Will also, plus she will be entitled to a monthly income from his pension.

Anyway, we are now starting the gruelling process of sorting his affairs and we cannot find a marriage certificate for them anywhere. For all we know the marriage may not have been legal, but we have to assume it was. We have tried to contact the spouse without success, the number seems to have been changed (the one in his address book) and she hasn’t answered any emails from us, and we are not even sure she is getting those. I have also written to her via normal post asking for the marriage certificate. On top of this, I have also written to the Cuban Consulate to see if they can help me. Unfortunately we have no idea of the date or place of marriage, only that it was around 2007 or 2008 and apparently dealing with Latin countries is a very arduous process.

Unfortunately we are at a standstill and I wonder if anyone can advise what we can do to progress probate. I have been advised we will need the marriage certificate but if we get no response and no-one can get hold of her and we can’t find any details or proof of the marriage, where does that leave us? The property still has a mortgage and we have opted to continue to pay this until sale, but obviously that won’t be possible unless we get probate.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you.


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Hi, I don't understand why you need a marriage certificate to gain probate, If your late father left her something in his will and made you and your brother the main beneficiaries and executors, you do not need the marriage certificate to pay her what she was left.


Who advised you that you need proof of marriage to gain probate?



Lula v Abbey - Settled

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Lula v Abbey (3) - Stayed


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I spoke to a solicitor and he said there's no way round it - although there may be if it's outside the UK - not sure.



My friend lost her mother and couldn't get probate without her late father's birth and death certificate - they were insistent (the Probate Registry that is) - do you think probate is possible without the marriage certificate?



That would take a load off my mind if it is!



Thank you for answering.




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Does the will mention the alleged marriage? When was the will made, before or after the alleged marriage?



Lula v Abbey - Settled

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You do not need a solicitor to apply for probate, if this lady has ignored your letters and you do not even have an proof that an alleged marriage took place you can do this yourself http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/GetForm.do?court_forms_id=735



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Lula v Abbey (3) - Stayed


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My father redid his Will last year amending the amount to his wife. He also made it clear in the Will the reason he was only leaving her the sum he was (due to not seeing each other for several years and her not being dependent etc and that the amount is worth a lot of money in Cuba etc.).



I was of the opinion I needed the marriage certificate as part of the paperwork but I'll be over the moon if I'm wrong. I only say this because my friend had to prove her father's death etc. when her mother died, being the spouse - or is that maybe the case because he had died rather than if he was still living whereby he would be a spouse - that sort of makes sense now...



Anyway, I need to know but that's fabby news if that's the case...?




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Well, I am still unsure,you can contact the probate people, but if she wont answer your letters I don't know what else you can do. I would complete the forms and send them off to the Probate Court and see what is said, if the will is clear that she is getting a certain amount then I don't think you will need a marriage certificate.



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I would think that it would be the wife that would need to provide a Marriage certificate in order to access the inheritance left to her ?

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Hello there.


Have you spoken to the Probate Office helpline? I'm dealing with my mother's will and have found them very helpful.






I'd do that. I don't think the marriage certificate matters at all - why did the solicitor think it did? As long as the Will is valid it doesn't matter whether your father was married. That only becomes an issue if your father had died intestate and then there are laws about who has the right to administer the Estate which might need proof of marriage. But if the valid Will names you as Executor and you apply for Probate I think it's irrelevant whether your father was married.


Once you get Probate I also don't think it matters whether you have the marriage certificate. Does the Will name the lady? If so does it matter whether they were married? If it says " I leave £x to Jane Doe" you just pay Jane Doe £x, her status isn't relevant.


The problem might be that you then have a 'missing beneficiary' though and you might need legal advice on that. It happens quite often though, there are well established procedures for dealing with 'missing beneficiaries'.

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