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10 June 2021
Whether an individual needs a will really depends on whether they are happy for their estate to pass in accordance with the law or in accordance with their own wishes – which may differ significantly.
Jersey succession law, which determines how an individual's assets pass on their death and whether their will is valid, is unusual and interesting. It is a complex mix of influences from English common law and French civil law.
First, the concept of a 'common law' spouse is not recognised in Jersey. If an individual is in a long-term relationship but is unmarried or has no formal civil partnership, they have no automatic rights under the law to inherit any part of their partner's estate which is held in their sole name should they die without a will.
If the deceased person has no descendants or spouse, their heirs under Jersey law would be their siblings or their siblings' children (if siblings had predeceased, leaving children of their own) or, if they were an only child, their surviving parent or parents.
If both parties contribute to and are jointly liable for the payment of a mortgage on a property, but the property is in the sole name of the deceased and they did not leave a will, the property will pass to their heirs as determined by the law (see above).
Save for buying a new house in their joint names (jointly held assets, provided that they are held on a survivorship basis, pass automatically to the surviving party on the death of the first) or having children (so that they have direct descendants who take priority in succession to siblings and parents), partners can resolve any possible issues by writing wills.
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