The Crown Dependencies of the Bailiwick of Jersey, the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Isle of Man are all leading international centres of finance, which for many decades have attracted investment from the UK and the rest of the world.
If you are involved in an estate that has assets located in the islands of Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you may find that a separate probate application is required to administer those assets.
A common error with estate planning is to assume that Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man form part of the UK. This is not the case as they are independent territories and each island has its own independent probate court.
Why do people invest in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man?
Many individuals hold assets “offshore” in these jurisdictions as there may be certain tax advantages. Sometimes, bank accounts or investments may originate in the UK, but subsequently move to Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man – either at the instruction of the investor or following an internal restructure by the financial institution.
All of the Islands are home to a large number of banks and wealth managers. It follows that many private client practitioners will have encountered an estate with assets located in one or more of the Islands, which requires a separate grant of representation. The following are common examples of assets that may be held in one of the Islands:
- Bank accounts;
- Unit trust holdings;
- Privately owned investment companies;
- Jewellery, coins and stamp collections held in safe custody;
- Nominee investment portfolios;
- Shares in registered public companies.
Why is probate required in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man?
If, for example, the deceased left a bank account in Jersey, depending on the value of the bank account in Jersey and the risk policy of the bank, it is usual for the bank to request a Jersey grant of probate – even if a UK or foreign grant has already been issued.
The courts in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man all have different rules for their probate applications. Where an estate is not completely straightforward, it is sometimes necessary to check the requirements with the court before you can proceed with the grant application.
What are the common rules for probate in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man?
Here are some common rules in the Islands:
- None of the Islands are part of the UK and all of the Islands are independent jurisdictions for succession and tax purposes;
- For estates where individuals pass away domiciled outside of the Islands, all of the Islands will consider that succession to “movable” assets are governed by the law of the deceased’s last domicile. Succession to “immovable” property located in one of the Islands will be governed by the law of where the immovable property is situated;
- It is not possible to “reseal” grants of representation in the Islands – although see the “fast-track” procedure in Jersey, which has some similarities;
- There is no inheritance tax throughout the Islands, but all of the courts charge a fee based on the value of the assets. Please see the annexes at the end of these notes, which schedule the current court fees for each Island.
How can our international solicitors help?
Our international lawyers have extensive experience in obtaining probate and managing estates with assets held in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. All of our non-contentious applications are dealt with by our team, in-house.
If you are interested in instructing our international probate solicitors to assist you in the administration of assets held in Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, please get in touch with us and provide details of the estate and the assets concerned, which will then enable us to consider the case and the work involved and provide you with a quote.
To assist us in considering your matter, please either post or email copies of the following documents to us:
- Copy of death certificate;
- Copy of any probates and Wills;
- Copy of a letter or statement from the asset holder confirming the details and value of the asset(s).
Please note that depending on the information contained in these initial papers, it may be necessary for us to request further information from you before we can be certain as to how the matter may proceed.
How do you deal with estates with complications?
Our international estate solicitors often see cases where two Wills have been prepared: one Will which is specifically limited to cover the estate of a testator’s country of domicile, for example, South Africa, and then a separate Will to cover the “United Kingdom estate”.
If the testator has assets in Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, this could produce the undesirable result of there being an intestacy, as the two Wills do not cover these islands. This can, of course, have a negative impact on the inheritance of the assets if the deceased had intended for their assets to pass to someone other than those who would benefit under the rules of intestacy.
Cross-border estates are not always straightforward. There may be an intestacy, an error in the Will, a chain of representation, or any other scenario which may mean that the court will request some special requirement to allow the application to proceed. This could include an affidavit of law or a specific court order.
Through many decades of experience in attending to the administration of assets in these jurisdictions and our relationships with the various courts, we are able to assist in meeting any of the special requirements that the court may stipulate.
In most instances, due to the hundreds of applications that we have submitted to these courts, we will know exactly how to meet the requirements and be able to rely on precedents. In some rare instances, the court may insist that a local lawyer is instructed to make representations before the court. In these cases, we are able to call upon one of our trusted connections with local lawyers to meet this requirement.
Frequently Asked Questions
A “fast-track” procedure applies for estates where the deceased passed away domiciled in England & Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Guernsey or the Isle of Man (British Isles). The fast-track procedure was introduced by the Probate (Jersey) Law 1998.
To apply for a Jersey grant of probate using the fast-track procedure, the following documents will need to be prepared for an England & Wales domiciled estate:
– Court sealed and certified copy of the England & Wales grant and Will (if applicable). Both the grant and Will need to be certified by the probate registry and the court seal needs to appear on every page;
– Official copy or certified copy of the death certificate;
– Date of death value of the assets held in Jersey, which will need to take the form of a letter or statement from the asset holder;
– Oath. The fast-track procedure enables a personal representative (appointed from one of the courts in the British Isles) to swear an oath where they are located and the oath does not need to be sworn in Jersey.
When the fast-track application is submitted, a Greffer’s certificate will be affixed to the England & Wales grant, which then provides the legal authority for the personal representative to administer the Jersey situated asset(s).
Our firm is able to offer this service. If you are in a position where you require a fast-track application to be submitted, we would be delighted to assist.
The Jersey court requires that applications for probate are made either in person by the executor or through a Jersey advocate. Attendance at the court is a key requirement.
By using a power of attorney from the legal representative, we are able to attend to Jersey applications in person and we do not need to use the services of Jersey lawyers or agents.
The person attending the court will need to swear an oath before the probate is issued.
Applications to the Guernsey court are unique due to the fact that the court prepares some of the application papers, which are printed on a specific court paper.
At the outset, we provide the court with the required estate documents, which then allows the court to prepare the application papers and advise the court fees.
We are able to attend to Guernsey probate applications by way of power of attorney from the executor of the estate. Again, we do not use the services of any Guernsey agents or associates for non-contentious probate applications.
Within the Bailiwick of Guernsey there are three separate jurisdictions: Guernsey (which includes the islands of Herm and Jethou), Alderney and Sark (which includes the island of Brecqhou).
The relevant court for property located in the Bailiwick of Guernsey is the Ecclesiastical Court of Guernsey.
The application includes a lengthy oath, which is sworn by an executor, administrator or their attorney and submitted together with supporting estate documents and the appropriate fee.
When we apply for probate in the Isle of Man, we usually act under a power of attorney from the legal representative of the estate. This allows us to agree and swear the required oath, following which the probate will be issued and we can then attend to the administration of the assets – in accordance with our client’s instructions.
We are able to deal directly with the Isle of Man court and do not employ the services of any agents or associates in the Isle of Man, unless a specific court order is required.