For individuals domiciled outside Jersey, a separate will covering Jersey assets can:
- simplify the probate process;
- provide certainty over the distribution of assets on death; and
- offer a cheaper solution.(1)
Jersey law is separate to that of England and Wales and distinguishes between movable or personal assets and immovable or real estate assets.
Personal assets include items such as:
- paintings; and
- intangible assets, such as:
- shares; and
- insurance policies.
These are often collectively referred to as personal or movable estates.
Personal assets that most commonly need to be accessed in Jersey following the death of a non-domiciled person are shares in Jersey companies and Jersey bank accounts and investments.
If individuals are domiciled outside Jersey, they need not prepare a separate will to cover their Jersey personal estate if they already have a valid one which covers their worldwide personal estate; however, there can be significant benefits from doing so.
An individual's domicile (essentially their permanent home and the place to which they are most connected) is important for Jersey law succession purposes because it is the law applied by an individual's domicile at the date of their death which usually governs the material validity of their will of personal estate.
Where individuals have no valid will that covers their Jersey assets, letters of administration must be obtained before their Jersey assets can be dealt with. The identity of the person who is entitled to make the application may be difficult to ascertain (as may be the identity of the heirs), adding to the cost and the time involved.
If a non-domiciled person leaves a Jersey estate with a value of more than £10,000, the asset holder is required by law to request that a Jersey grant of probate or letters of administration is produced before any of the estate is released.
The executor or administrator must make a personal appearance in Jersey or appoint a Jersey-based agent, such as a lawyer, to apply for the grant of probate or letters of administration. Where there is only one will covering the worldwide estate, the Jersey Court requires that this is first admitted to probate, or the equivalent procedure, in the country of domicile (unless there are no assets in any location other than Jersey).
Legal advice is always recommended as it is essential to ensure:
- that a Jersey estate is properly covered; and
- that there is no conflict with or unintended revocation of any other will.
If an individual has a separate Jersey will covering their Jersey estate, this can be admitted to probate in Jersey without needing to complete probate procedures in another jurisdiction. This makes the administration of the Jersey estate much more efficient and assists with the payment of debts in other jurisdictions, if required.
If an individual owns immovable property (real estate), it is important to take proper advice regarding the succession of these assets on their death as this is usually governed by the law of the country in which the property is located.
(1) An infographic version of the guide is available here.
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