Obtaining probate in Jersey
The advantages of having a separate Jersey Will
Where a person dies domiciled in a jurisdiction other than Jersey, with assets in Jersey, a Jersey grant of probate (where there is a will) or letters of administration (where there is no will) is required by any Jersey financial institution holding assets with a value of over £10,000, before those assets are released.
Where the assets held in Jersey are under £10,000, the Jersey financial institution may accept a grant of probate or letters of administration or the equivalent, issued by a court in the jurisdiction of domicile of the deceased.
Where a Jersey grant of probate or Jersey letters of administration are required, the possible scenarios are as follows:
1. A person dies without leaving a valid will.
Where a person dies without having made a will the Jersey Probate Registry requires a copy of the letters of administration or equivalent issued by a court in the place of domicile, bearing the seal of that court and certified a true copy of the original by that court. A photocopy of the death certificate is also required.
A Jersey lawyer then prepares the documentation necessary to apply for letters of administration in Jersey. The personal representatives of the deceased must either appear in person in Jersey to make the application or appoint an attorney in Jersey to act on their behalf.
2. Where a person dies having made a will, which does not cover assets in Jersey or has died without leaving assets in the place of domicile and so the documentation referred to in paragraph 1 is not available.
In this scenario an affidavit of law is required from the jurisdiction of domicile, which must confirm the facts of the case and in particular:
- Who in accordance with the law of the place of domicile is entitled to inherit the assets of the deceased situated in Jersey; and
- Who is entitled to administer the Jersey estate of the deceased.
3. Where a person dies having made a will which covers worldwide estate.
In this scenario, where the will has been proved in the place of domicile, a court sealed and certified copy of the will and grant of probate issued in the place of domicile is required, as is a copy of the death certificate. Otherwise, the original will and death certificate are required.
The difficulties we encounter in these scenarios are as follows:
- Not all jurisdictions have the same concept of domicile as Jersey.
- Not all jurisdictions have the same concept of executor or administrator as Jersey.
- In some jurisdictions it is extremely difficult to obtain sealed and certified copies of documents from courts. Frequently, we are told that such documents are not available and we have had to wait for up to two years for the documents in some cases.
- In some cases where the will has not been validly executed in accordance with Jersey law, an affidavit of law from a lawyer practising in the place of domicile is necessary.
- Language barriers can lead to difficulties in explaining legal concepts and additional cost in obtaining official translations.
- Errors on documents can lead to delays and additional costs.
- Reluctance of lawyers in the place of domicile and/or beneficiaries to accept the advice given with regard to the documents required can lead to delays and additional costs.
- Waiting for probate or letters of administration to be granted in the place of domicile, before probate procedures can take place in Jersey, is not always convenient and results in time delays.
- Where the will covers estate in many jurisdictions it can take some time to obtain official documentation from courts in the place of domicile.
Making a separate will to cover Jersey assets ensures that the Jersey estate is dealt with quickly and efficiently. There is no necessity to obtain official copies of documents from courts in the place of domicile, or affidavits of law. The only original documentation required is the original Jersey will and the original death certificate (which is later returned). Only photocopies of any other: wills are required
As a result, the process is very quick and cost effective. The ideal scenario would be to appoint a Jersey executor, making it unnecessary for the executor to come to Jersey to make a personal application for probate or to execute a power of attorney.
Where the will is drafted by a Jersey lawyer the lawyer will ensure that it is validly drafted in accordance with Jersey law, alleviating the possibility of further documentation being required.
Finally, in some jurisdictions there are hefty inheritance taxes which must be paid in advance. Having a separate Jersey will has the benefit of it being possible for beneficiaries to gain access to funds in Jersey to pay those taxes, without having to obtain probate in the jurisdiction of domicile first.
Contact us today to find out more about our probate services or help you make a Jersey Will: +44 (0) 1534 632263