Looking after your loved ones
A will provides certainty for your family and friends at a time of emotional distress and it ensures that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes after your death. Even if the value of your estate is small, there are important reasons why you should make a will.
While in many cases spouses or civil partners own assets jointly with each other, with such assets passing automatically to the survivor upon death, this is not always the case. If assets are not inherited under the rule of survivorship, it can lead to difficulties where a deceased has died without leaving a will, or when the deceased has chosen to exclude his or her spouse or civil partners from a will. Unlike under English law, Jersey has certain provisions to ensure that a surviving spouse and any surviving children are provided for upon death.
You will need to think about who you would like to appoint as executor. You can have more than one executor. The executor will be the person appointed by the will to administer your estate and distribute your property in accordance with your wishes.
It is important to be aware that whilst you do not have to leave your assets to your family, if you make a will of movable estate excluding your spouse/civil partner and/or child(ren), or you to choose to leave them less than their legal entitlement, then a claim can be made against your executor by the aggrieved heir. This provision is known as Légitime and the extent of the claim is as follows:
The term “household effects” is defined in the Wills and Successions (Jersey) law 1993 (as amended) and means articles of household or personal use or ornament normally situate in order around the matrimonial/civil partnership home. The definition is subject to exceptions and excludes, amongst other things, motor vehicles, money, an item or group of items over £10,000 and items used wholly or principally for business purposes.
If you have neither spouse/civil partner nor any children, you have full testamentary freedom to leave your movable estate assets to whomever you wish.
If you die without having made a valid will of your moveable estate, you are said to have died intestate and in such cases, your estate will be distributed as follows:
If there is a surviving spouse/civil partner but no issue, the surviving spouse/civil partner is entitled to the whole of the net movable estate. Where the deceased is survived by both a spouse/civil partner and issue, the surviving spouse is entitled to the household effects (as described above), other movable estate to the value of £30,000 and one-half of the remainder of the net movable estate. The issue is entitled to the other half of the net movable estate.
The general rule is that you are free to leave your immovable estate to whoever you choose. However, if you die testate leaving a spouse or civil partner, your spouse or civil partner may be entitled to a right to the life enjoyment of one-third of your immovable estate.
If a spouse/civil partner dies intestate leaving issue, then the surviving spouse/civil partner will receive a life enjoyment of the matrimonial home and an equal share in the reversionary ownership of the immovable estate. If the deceased leaves no surviving children, then the surviving spouse/civil partner is entitled to the whole of the immovable estate.
In conclusion in absence of a will, the law will dictate who will inherit your assets, therefore legal advice is needed to ensure your loved ones are provided for in your will.
How Parslows can help
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The information and opinion expressed in this briefing does not purport to be definitive or comprehensive and are not intended to provide professional advice. For specific advice, please contact Parslows, We are not responsible for, and do not accept any responsibility or liability in connection with, the content of this document or any reliance upon it