Where there is a will there is a way!
Why it’s important to have a will
It is important for you to make a will whether or not you consider you have many possessions or much money. The primary benefit is that you get to decide (within certain parameters set out by Jersey law) who you wish to inherit your assets.
If you do not make a will, this may not happen and the law will dictate who will inherit from you. This will create a situation called an intestacy.
We consider these the top 9 reasons to make a will:
- To save a lot of trouble, expense and delay after you die
- To appoint a guardian for your children
- To make financial provision for your childrens’ upkeep and education
- To make sure there are no arguments in the family
- So a spouse’s or civil partner’s family don’t get everything if you both die together
- To prevent the government or anyone else deciding where your assets will go
- If you are unmarried neither of you will benefit if the other one dies
- Because you have children from previous relationships you want to make sure your own children don’t lose out
- To make provision for an elderly or disabled relative
In order to avoid an intestacy in Jersey it is necessary to make two wills, one for dealing with immovable property and one for dealing with movable property. A will of Jersey immovable property deals with land and everything built on it, leases for over nine years, flying freehold property and the benefit of certain mortgages. A will of movable property deals with all other assets such as jewellery, furniture, bank accounts, shares (including those that relate to share transfer properties) and investments.
At the moment, there are forced heirship rules which apply to movable property where there is a will. The surviving spouse or civil partner and issue can claim against an estate if they have not been given their “one third share” (where there is spouse or civil partner and issue) or their “two thirds share” (where there is either a spouse, civil partner or issue). The remaining third is freely disposable by will. You may leave your immovable property to whomever you wish, but in the case of your spouse or civil partner, where you make a will, they will be entitled to a life interest over a third of your immovable property, called a ‘dower’.
As it is essential that wills are in correct form and properly witnessed (in order to be valid), you should always consult a lawyer to advise on and prepare your wills. There are no pre-printed will forms suitable for use in Jersey.
If your circumstances have changed, it is also important that you make a will to ensure that your money and possessions are distributed according to your wishes. For example, if you have separated or divorced and your ex-partner now lives with someone else, you may want to change your will. Equally, if you have had children or if beneficaries in your current will have died, you should change your will.
It is a very easy process, it does not take long and it is relatively inexpensive. An intestacy on the otherhand may well be a different story.
Whilst the above is intended to be an accurate guide to the basic law of succession in Jersey, it is no substitute for seeking proper legal advice.