If you have a non-US decedent, here are some documents that you’ll most likely need to get translated. Sometimes clients and also foreign attorneys approach us to explain to them what needs to be done.
The court wants to see the funeral bill and whether it was paid in full. They need to know who gets reimbursed for the cost. This is important because the funeral home is a top-priority creditor of the estate. From a public policy standpoint, we want to make sure the disposition of the body is handled properly. The funeral bill is so important that it gets paid before the IRS gets paid.
For these reasons, the court wants to make sure that the amount is correct, and the correct person is reimbursed. Therefore, proper translation of this document is critical.
Translation of the death certificate is imperative, as well. Obviously, the death certificate is needed for proof of death and date of death. The date of death is also a trigger for important legal deadlines.
Also, the death certificate may include important information, such as residence address, marital status, and informant. The decedent’s address determines which court handles the probate proceedings and the marital status helps tell the story of the decedent.
Additionally, the informant information will give us a link to a family member. The death certificate is really the first document that we start to build the probate case on. It needs to be translated properly so that we can read and understand all of the information, including the dates.
Foreign probate court file
The foreign probate court file is important to get translated. We need the entire court file, not just the foreign grant of probate letters. This file can be a lot of pages, sometimes hundreds.
Also note that the file is not just a bunch of photocopies from the court; they have to be exemplified. That is a special type of copy that is signed by the judge, then by the chief clerk, and then by someone else (triple stamped). It is expensive to have a file exemplified, and if it is voluminous, it will take a while for the court to prepare it.
Then, it will take a while for it to be translated. The court may also want the credentialed translator to sign an affidavit (you can’t just do it yourself on Google). This is a multi-step and costly process. Always check with the attorney first to be sure that an exemplified copy of the file is needed before you request one.
I recommend reading my book, “How Probate Works, “available on Amazon, so you can learn what may need to be translated if it comes from a foreign court.