Minors inheriting property
A reform of the tutelle system
Jersey has special rules relating to minors and the ownership of property. A minor is a person who is not yet 18 and, under Jersey law, a minor is not deemed competent to deal with property. Accordingly, if a minor inherits or is gifted property, a Tutelle must be established.
At the moment a Tutelle is made up of a Tuteur (who is effectively the head of the Tutelle) and 6 other people, known as Electeurs (who assist the Tuteur in making decisions regarding the minor’s property). This existing system is cumbersome and overly complicated and the need to liaise with 6 Electeurs is time consuming and unnecessary.
On 22nd August 2016 the new Children’s Property and Tuteurs (Jersey) Law 2016 will come into force and will provide new rules for the administration of Tutelles. The new system will allow for Tutelles to be managed in a far more effective way whilst protecting the interests of minors who acquire immovable or movable property.
The key features of the law are as follows:
The appointment of a Tuteur is mandatory where the minor inherits or receives movable property (shares, bonds, cars etc.) to the value of £25,000 or more, or any immovable property;
There will no longer be a need for a group of Electeurs. The Tuteur will be appointed by the court to act autonomously in the administration of the property of the minor. However, more than one Tuteur can be appointed to hold joint responsibility for the role. Accordingly, if a child inherits property, both of their parents can be appointed as Tuteurs;
- On appointment by the court, the Tuteur must prepare an inventory and thereafter lodge annual accounts with the court. The court therefore has a supervisory role over the administration of the minor’s property;
- Linked to the court’s supervisory role, the new law has specific provisions so that, for example, a relative of the minor or the attorney general may apply to the court to have the Tuteur discharged;
- The court is also empowered to give directions at any time concerning the administration of the Tutelle;
- Permission will still be required from the court for a sale of property belonging to the minor;
- It will be an offence for someone other than the Tuteur to deal with a minor’s property once a Tuteur is appointed. It will also be an offence to administer the property of a minor where the law requires that a Tuteur will be appointed. There is however protection built into the law for persons who act in accordance with directions given by the Tuteur or are employed by the Tuteur.
The new law will provide a significant benefit to those concerned with the administration of a Tutelle. If you or a relative who is a minor will be affected by these changes and would like further information or guidance on the legal requirements, please contact Zoë Blomfield on +44 (0) 1534 888666.