Bona Notabilia

Bona Notabilia
Bona Notabilia
Full Overview Of Bona Notabilia

Specific Latin terms have persisted in the intricate world of probate and estate law, reflecting the long-standing traditions and legal principles governing these matters. One such term is “bona notabilia,” which plays a crucial role in the administration of estates, especially when assets are located in different jurisdictions.

This overview aims to thoroughly examine Bona Notabilia, exploring its definition, application, legal implications, and practical considerations. Understanding Bona Notabilia is essential for legal professionals, executors, and individuals involved in estate administration.

Defining Bona Notabilia

Bona notabilia” is a Latin term that translates to “notable goods” or “notable property.” In the context of probate law, it refers to a deceased individual’s significant assets that are located outside the jurisdiction where the person resided or where the principal probate proceedings are taking place. The concept is particularly relevant when dealing with cross-jurisdictional estates, where assets are distributed across different regions or countries.

Historical Context and Evolution

The concept of Bona Notabilia has its origins in mediaeval English law, specifically in ecclesiastical courts’ jurisdiction over probate matters. When a deceased person’s estate had substantial assets in multiple dioceses, the concept required probate to be granted by the higher court, such as the archbishop’s court, rather than the local diocesan court. This ensured that notable assets were administered consistently and efficiently across different jurisdictions.

Although the jurisdiction of probate matters shifted from ecclesiastical to civil courts over time, the concept of bona notabilia remained relevant. It continues to be significant in the administration of estates with assets in multiple jurisdictions, ensuring that such estates are managed effectively and in accordance with legal requirements.

The legal framework governing Bona Notabilia involves several key considerations:

  1. Jurisdiction: The primary probate jurisdiction is usually the place where the deceased was domiciled. However, if there are notable assets in another jurisdiction, secondary or ancillary probate may be required in that jurisdiction.
  2. Ancillary Probate: When Bona Notabilia is identified in a different jurisdiction, ancillary probate proceedings are initiated in that jurisdiction to manage and distribute those assets. This process ensures that local laws and regulations are adhered to.
  3. Threshold of Notability: Determining what constitutes “notable” assets can vary. Generally, it involves assets of significant value or importance, including real estate, substantial bank accounts, or valuable personal property.

Importance of Bona Notabilia

The concept of Bona Notabilia serves several important purposes in estate administration:

  1. Legal Compliance: Ensures that assets in different jurisdictions are managed and distributed in accordance with local laws and regulations.
  2. Efficient Administration: Facilitates the efficient administration of estates with cross-jurisdictional assets, preventing delays and complications.
  3. Protection of Assets: Protects the interests of beneficiaries by ensuring that all notable assets are properly accounted for and distributed.

Practical Implications for Executors

Executors play a crucial role in managing estates that involve Bona Notabilia. Their responsibilities include:

  1. Identifying Notable Assets: Executors must identify and inventory all notable assets outside the primary jurisdiction.
  2. Initiating Ancillary Probate: Executors must initiate ancillary probate proceedings in jurisdictions where notable assets are located, ensuring compliance with local laws.
  3. Coordination: Executors must coordinate with legal professionals in different jurisdictions to manage the estate effectively and ensure proper asset distribution.
  4. Documentation: Maintaining detailed records of all assets, probate proceedings, and distributions is essential for transparency and legal compliance.

Challenges and Considerations

Managing an estate that involves Bona Notabilia presents several challenges and considerations:

  1. Complex Legal Procedures: Navigating the legal requirements for ancillary probate in different jurisdictions can be complex and time-consuming.
  2. Costs: Ancillary probate proceedings can incur additional costs, including legal fees and administrative expenses. These costs need to be managed efficiently to preserve the estate’s value.
  3. Coordination Across Jurisdictions: Effective communication and coordination between executors and legal professionals in different jurisdictions are crucial to ensuring a smooth administration process.
  4. Varying Laws: Different jurisdictions may have varying laws and procedures for probate, which can complicate the administration process. Understanding these differences is essential for compliance and effective management.

Case Studies

To illustrate the practical application and implications of Bona Notabilia, consider the following hypothetical case studies:

International Real Estate

Emma, a British citizen, passed away leaving significant assets, including a villa in Spain and a substantial bank account in France. Her primary residence and main probate proceedings are in the UK. Given the notable value of the villa and the bank account, the executor initiates ancillary probate in Spain and France. By doing so, the executor ensures that Emma’s international assets are managed and distributed in accordance with Spanish and French laws, respectively, while maintaining compliance with UK probate laws.

Business Interests Across Borders

John, an entrepreneur, owned businesses in both the UK and Germany. When he passed away, the businesses in Germany were considered to be of substantial value, known as Bona Notabilia. The executor began ancillary probate proceedings in Germany to oversee the management and distribution of the business assets in accordance with German legal requirements. This approach ensures that John’s business interests are preserved and transferred smoothly to the beneficiaries, while complying with local business regulations and probate laws.

Personal Property and Investments

Sarah, a Canadian citizen residing in the UK, had significant personal property and investment accounts in the UK and Canada. Upon her death, the executor identifies these assets as Bona Notabilia. Ancillary probate is initiated in Canada to manage and distribute the investments and personal property located there. This process ensures that Sarah’s assets are properly accounted for and distributed according to both UK and Canadian laws.

Steps for Executors Managing Bona Notabilia

For executors handling an estate involving Bona Notabilia, several steps can help ensure effective and compliant administration:

  1. Comprehensive Inventory: Conduct a thorough inventory of all assets, identifying those located outside the primary jurisdiction.
  2. Legal Consultation: Consult with legal professionals in the relevant jurisdictions to understand local probate requirements and procedures.
  3. Timely Initiation of Probate: Initiate ancillary probate proceedings promptly to avoid delays and ensure assets are protected.
  4. Efficient Coordination: Establish clear lines of communication and coordination with legal professionals, beneficiaries, and relevant authorities in different jurisdictions.
  5. Documentation and Reporting: Maintain detailed documentation of all probate proceedings, asset management activities, and distributions to ensure transparency and legal compliance.

For individuals and families with cross-jurisdictional assets, several considerations can help streamline the probate process and mitigate potential challenges:

  1. Estate Planning: Engage in comprehensive estate planning, considering the location and value of all assets. This planning can include drafting wills that account for international assets and consulting with legal professionals in relevant jurisdictions.
  2. Clear Instructions: Provide clear instructions in the will regarding the management and distribution of cross-jurisdictional assets to guide executors and prevent disputes.
  3. Regular Updates: Regularly update the will and estate plan to reflect changes in assets, relationships, and legal requirements in different jurisdictions.
  4. Communication with Beneficiaries: Communicate with beneficiaries about the estate plan and the location of assets to manage expectations and ensure a smooth administration process.


Bona Notabilia is an important concept in the management of estates, especially those with assets located in multiple jurisdictions. It is crucial for legal professionals, executors, and individuals involved in estate planning and administration to understand its definition, legal framework, and practical implications.

At DLS Solicitors, we understand the complexities and challenges of handling estates that cross different jurisdictions. Our team of experienced solicitors is committed to providing expert guidance and support to ensure that the administration of estates involving Bona Notabilia is handled accurately and with care. Whether you are dealing with international real estate, business interests, or personal property, we are here to help you navigate the legal landscape and protect the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries.

By understanding and effectively managing Bona Notabilia, individuals and legal professionals can ensure the efficient administration and distribution of estate assets, while honoring the wishes of the deceased, and safeguarding the legacy they leave behind.

Bona Notabilia FAQ'S

Bona notabilia refers to significant assets or property of a deceased person that are located in a different jurisdiction from where the primary probate is being granted. This term is often used in the context of estate administration and probate.

Bona notabilia becomes relevant when a deceased person’s assets are located in more than one jurisdiction, requiring separate grants of probate or letters of administration in each jurisdiction where the assets are held.

Identifying bona notabilia ensures that the estate is properly administered according to the laws of each jurisdiction where the deceased held significant assets, preventing any legal complications or challenges.

General estate assets are located within the jurisdiction where the deceased resided and where the primary probate is granted. Bona notabilia refers specifically to significant assets located outside that primary jurisdiction.

The process involves obtaining a secondary grant of probate or letters of administration in the jurisdiction where the bona notabilia are located. This secondary grant is typically based on the primary grant of probate from the deceased’s domicile.

Yes, bona notabilia can complicate estate administration, as it requires coordination between multiple jurisdictions and compliance with the probate laws of each jurisdiction where assets are held.

The executor or administrator of the estate is responsible for handling bona notabilia. They may need to appoint local representatives or solicitors in the jurisdictions where the assets are located to assist with the process.

Yes, there can be tax implications. Each jurisdiction may have its own inheritance or estate tax laws, and the executor must ensure compliance with tax obligations in all relevant jurisdictions.

Failing to identify and properly administer bona notabilia can lead to legal disputes, delays in estate distribution, and potential penalties for non-compliance with local probate and tax laws.

An executor can ensure compliance by seeking legal advice from solicitors experienced in cross-border probate matters, obtaining necessary grants of probate or letters of administration in each relevant jurisdiction, and coordinating with local legal representatives to address specific legal and tax requirements.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th July 2024.

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