Many people will wish to make a Will to ensure that their estate is disposed of in accordance with their wishes on their death. Where someone owns real property (houses, buildings and land) in Guernsey, it is advisable for them to make a Will in order to name specifically the people they want it to pass to on their death.
If this is not done, the formalities for ensuring that the property is properly vested in the heirs can be quite complex.
Where someone dies owning assets in Guernsey, it may be necessary for probate (which is also sometimes called “letters of administration”) to be obtained in relation to their estate to enable the estate to be properly wound up. This is an official document which enables the person named in it (the “executor” or “administrator”) to prove to third parties (banks, insurance companies etc.) that that person is duly authorised to collect together the assets of the deceased. Without seeing this official document, the deceased’s bank will not pay out any balance standing to the credit of the deceased’s banks account, although most banks will pay out without sight of probate where the amount involved is relatively small.
In Guernsey, probate is granted by the Ecclesiastical Court.
An Advocate can assist with the process of obtaining probate and, if required, with the winding up of the estate. It is worth noting that:
- It is not obligatory to employ an Advocate, either to obtain probate or to wind up the estate, and it may not be necessary to do so where the winding up is a simple matter. Applications for probate can be made directly to the Registrar of the Ecclesiastical Court: Nick Ozanne, The Constables Office, Lefebvre Street, St Peter Port GY1 2JR | 01481 721732
- It is not necessary to obtain probate in relation to real property in Guernsey as, in most cases, it will pass to the heirs automatically. However, where the deceased has left a Will which deals with real property in Guernsey, it will need to be registered at the Greffe, and the services of an Advocate are required for this. In addition, if the deceased died without leaving a Will, it may be difficult to prove to a potential buyer of the deceased’s property who the heirs are unless an application for an “administration order” is made to the Royal Court, which can be a fairly complex process. The services of an Advocate are required in order to make this type of application.