You can decide not to make a Will. If you die without making a Jersey Will, your assets pass in accordance with the intestacy rules. Making a Will should mean that your property will be distributed as per your intentions and wishes.
Jersey law divides property into immovable estate, situate in the Island, and movable estate.
Immovable estate consists of land and buildings on land, including leases of more than nine years, “flying freeholds”, and those mortgages known as “hypothèques conventionnelles” but excluding “share transfer” properties. All other property in Jersey is movable estate.
Different rules apply to movable and immovable estates and it is therefore the practice to prepare separate Wills for them.
In order to make a Jersey Will, you must be at least 18 years old or married.
You can change the provisions of your Wills, as your circumstances alter, throughout your life. Wills only become effective at the time of death.
The executor is the person who will obtain the grant of probate, administer your estate and distribute your property in accordance with the provisions of your Will. You may appoint anyone as your executor, but you should always ensure that the person you have in mind is happy to act as such.
An executor is required for movable estate, but not for immovable estate.
As a general rule, you are free to leave your immovable estate to whoever you choose. However, one should consider dower.
If you are married and leave a spouse, that person may claim dower, which is the right to a life interest in one-third of your immovable estate, which continues despite any remarriage.
First and foremost, you can leave your movable estate to whoever you choose. However, your surviving spouse and children (see 1 below) have what are known as “légitime” rights.
Légitime rights allow a spouse and/or children to claim a proportion of the movable estate of a Jersey domiciled individual, if they so choose, within a specific time period. It is not possible to avoid a valid “légitime” claim.
If you leave a spouse but no children, your spouse will take all of your immovable estate. If you leave a spouse and children, your spouse and children will share equally in your immovable estate. If you leave children but no spouse, your children will share equally in your immovable estate.
Usually, unless your spouse is left the matrimonial home absolutely, he or she will be entitled to a life interest in such home. This applies whether or not the matrimonial home is a freehold, flying freehold, leasehold or share transfer unit. However, this will not apply if, at the time of your death, your spouse had deserted you without cause, or you had obtained a decree of judicial separation from your spouse.
If you leave a spouse but no children, your spouse will take all of your net movable estate. If you leave a spouse and children, your spouse will take the household effects, other movable estate to the value of £30,000 and half of the rest of your net movable estate. Your children will take the other half of the rest of your net movable estate. If you leave children but no spouse, your children will share equally in your movable estate.
Gifts to your spouse by Will, or the appointment of your spouse as your executor, are automatically cancelled on divorce, but the rest of your Will remains valid. We recommend that you review your Wills if you have divorced or are about to do so.
Unlike Wills in some other jurisdictions, Jersey Wills are not revoked by marriage. We recommend that you review your Wills if you have married or are about to do so.
Your partner will not have any right to your estate if you die without making a Will.
Natalie Jenner | Partner | Wills Succession and Estate Planning
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