Wills and Probate - How to Find A Will?
How can we find out if a relative in Jamaica left a will and whether probate was completed after her death? We are from England, UK.RESPONSE: by Deon ClarkeREVIEWED: by Sheree-Anita Shearer
Please accept my condolences on the passing of your relative. I will try to provide you with as much information as possible regarding your questions. It can be quite a headache when a relative has passed and you are uncertain if there is a will and if it has been probated. So how would you know? There are actually three possible sources where you could get information about wills. So let’s take a look:
The Island Record Office (An Arm of the RGD)
The Registrar General’s Department (RGD) has a facility that allows for a document that outlines the distribution of an individual’s or testator’s estate after death, can be registered at the Island Record Office while the person is alive. It is called a “paper in writing” from the time it is deposited until the person dies. Amendments can also be made to it during the person’s lifetime. The last paper in writing that is made will revoke all previous ones and will become the “last will and Testament” upon the death of the testator.
In order for a paper writing to be registered, it should contain the following:
- The name of the testator
- The name, address, and occupation of two witnesses
- The signature of all parties involved (the testator and witnesses)
- The date of execution
Once all these requirements are met, it can then be taken to the Island Record Office and the required fees paid. You would then be given a receipt and advised when to return to collect the completed document. The fees are outlined below:
- Each legal sheet(each 160 words): $500
- Deed receipt: $500
- Service charges: 7-10 days: $1,000; 3-5 days: $2,500
Once the document is lodged at the Island Record Office, it then becomes a public document. Any member of the public can have access to it once they provide the date of the execution for the document, the testator's name, the date the document was lodged and payment of the sheeting cost (listed above).
The record above will still hold while the document is a paper in writing and after this, it becomes the last will and testament of the deceased person, regardless of whether it has already been probated.
The Registry of the Supreme Court
If the will has already been probated, you can get a certified copy of it from the Supreme Court. The request can be made to the deputy registrar from the Supreme Court by the Attorney-at-Law who filed it. A beneficiary or the executor of the estate can also request a copy through the lawyer.
It is also quite possible that the executor or executrix (in the case of a woman) may have a copy and would also be able to provide this to you. This brings us to our next and final source- The Executor.
What is the role of the executor? The executor can be a person or an entity such as a law firm or trust company. The primary functions of the executor are to prove the validity of the will in a court of law by applying for the grant of probate of the estate. The Court would grant this after it has examined and verified that the will was properly prepared in accordance with the Wills Act, and to satisfactorily carry out the wishes of the deceased person, as stated in the last will and testament.
In the administration of the estate, the executor generally does the collection, preservation, realization, and distribution of the income and assets of the estate. Let us look at the role of the executor in more detail:
- In order to collect and preserve the assets of the deceased person, the executor would take possession of, or assumes control of the assets as soon as he is properly able to do so. Therefore, among other things, he would gather and keep safely the documents of the deceased, including the original will, bank books or statements, titles to land and motor vehicles, as well as keys to real property, motor vehicles, and safety deposit boxes. A huge responsibility, isn’t it?
- The executor has an ongoing responsibility to also ensure that the estate assets are preserved until they can be realized and the proceeds distributed to the creditors of the deceased and, thereafter, to the beneficiaries of the estate.
- The executor should also ensure that the debts of the deceased are paid as well as to collect money owed to the deceased at the time of death. He should also and try to get the best price for assets by getting a proper valuation. Additionally, he should advertise these assets to get the best possible market exposure. In this case, it would prove beneficial to engage the services of professionals where necessary.
- The executor will be able to start the distribution of the assets of the estate according to the terms of the will after the court has given the requisite grant of representation after all debts, expenses, outstanding loans, undischarged mortgages, government fees, and taxes have been liquidated, and if the estate has more assets than liabilities.
- The executor is also responsible for contacting the beneficiaries and creditors and consistently provide them with an update on the progress of the administration of the estate. He should be sure to give an account in the end, to the beneficiaries and the creditors of the estate through the courts by filing the accounts of the administration of the estate.
I do hope that this information provided will help you with your search. All the best Nigel and thanks for visiting our website.
I also recommend you read How to get Copies of Wills and Titles of Property in Jamaica.
- “Make a Will”, Administrator General’s Department, https://agd.gov.jm/how-do-i/make-a-will/
- “How to Probate a Will in Jamaica?”, My-Island-Jamaica, https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/how-to-probate-a-will-in-jamaica.html
- “Oran Hall | Gaining access to wills. (2021).” Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/business/20171224/oran-hall-gaining-access-wills
- “Oran Hall | Executing a will in Jamaica. (2021).” Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/business/20200607/oran-hall-executing-will-jamaica
- “Registrar General's Department”, https://www.rgd.gov.jm/index.php/products-and-service/prices
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