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23 March 2017
It may seem that a formal grant of probate issued in the United Kingdom would be sufficient to release assets held in Jersey; however, unfortunately the process is not that simple. Because Jersey is a separate jurisdiction, a separate grant of probate is required unless the Jersey estate is worth less than £10,000. In practical terms this means a visit, in person, to the Judicial Greffe (the clerk section) of the Royal Court.
For UK practitioners, that process is better handled by a Jersey firm. It can take two separate visits for the procedures to be completed, which can be time-consuming and expensive for UK-based firms. Jersey-based firms have regular standing appointments at the Judicial Greffe to deal with probate issues.
On production of a UK grant of probate, the clerks will issue a Jersey grant of probate through a fast-track process, which will enable any bank accounts or investments to be released and distributed in accordance with the will.
This procedure covers moveable assets (ie, money held in Jersey bank accounts, and investments held in Jersey); however, the process is more complicated for property assets.
For Jersey property, a will that has been court-sealed and certified in accordance with Jersey law is required.
A further complication presents itself regarding the inheritance of Jersey property – anyone inheriting a property also inherits a right to occupy it, despite Jersey's restrictions on residence. The right to occupy an inherited property does not confer wider residency rights on the inheritor – for example, he or she cannot occupy other properties on the island on the basis of their inheritance.
The inheritor is also restricted from selling the inherited property for "a year and a day" from the date that the will is registered, in case a dispute arises because a separate will has been discovered which leaves the property to someone else. In most cases, this restriction can be circumvented by taking out an appropriate insurance policy.
Without a properly registered will, or in the event of any irregularities with the will, the deceased will be held to have died intestate, and an administrator – usually the surviving spouse or eldest child – will be appointed by the court to deal with inheritance issues.
It is clear that these procedures are not universally understood and adhered to, which has the potential to cause difficulties in the event that there are any disputes over inheritance.
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