If you do not have properly executed wills for your immovable and movable estate, which dispose of your assets upon death, then Jersey intestacy laws will determine the distribution and who administers your movable estate. If you wish for your estate to be passed to specific loved ones, you should always carefully consider whether to make a will.
First and foremost, at the risk of stating the obvious, once you make a will, don’t lose it. Making a Jersey Will is important – if given the choice it is usually advisable for your lawyer to retain the original copy of the wills. Your lawyer will provide you with copies. In the unfortunate circumstance that the wills are lost, it is sometimes possible (but not always) to prove a copy Will for probate purposes. If not, then you run the risk that your estate could fall into intestacy.
This is often a neglected issue but it is an important one when making a Jersey Will. You should always consider how your executor will ascertain all of your assets. A list placed with the Will, or in a readily accessible place, could save your testator a lot of time and money.
It is always advisable to check how your wills are structured every few years. For many people, wills are relatively straightforward, in that they provide for the deceased’s spouse and children. However, your Will may request specific assets to loved ones, which may not now be appropriate or the named beneficiary may have passed away. In the latter case, you could find that a specific bequest may end up passing to the residue estate if that beneficiary has passed away.
It is not advisable to use online homemade DIY Jersey wills. The law relating to wills in Jersey is not the same as that in other jurisdictions. For example, there are a number of formal requirements that need to be met for a will of immovable property and a will of movable property, which are dictated by Jersey Statute. Without complying with the formality requirements, you run the risk that your Will may be invalid under Jersey Law and that your immovable and/or movable property may pass under intestacy and not to the person you wished to leave it to.
If you are planning to buy immovable property in Jersey with someone else, you should consider whether to buy the property as joint owners, rather than owners in common. If you hold immovable property as joint owners, then the property will pass on survivorship to the surviving owner without paying any additional stamp duty. However, if the immovable property is held as owners in common, your share will pass in accordance with the terms of your Will (or under intestacy), which may attract considerable stamp duty (some exceptions do however apply).
Under Jersey Law, a Tutelle is required when a minor (a person under the age of 18) inherits property or assets under a will. A Tutelle is akin to a form of trust. The cost of setting up a Tutelle may well exceed the value of the bequest.
Natalie Jenner | Partner | Wills Succession and Estate Planning
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