How to Probate Wills in Jamaica

By Fraser Sherman

A Jamaican will must be in writing. It must be signed by the testator — the will writer — in the presence of two witnesses, who also sign their names. When the testator dies, the will goes to probate.

Grant of Probate

The Jamaican Robinson & Clarke law firm says that the executor named in the will must apply to the court for a grant of probate. The grant gives the executor the authority to manage the estate and distribute assets to beneficiaries. To apply for the grant, the executor must present the court with the right paperwork, including:

  • The will.
  • A certified death certificate.
  • The oath of executor.

The oath includes basic information about the deceased, including her name, address, occupation and death date. It also includes the executor's declaration that she will faithfully carry out her duties.

Specific cases may require added documents. If the will has markings or alterations, an affidavit of condition confirms this was the shape the will was in when it was found. If a handwritten will lacks witness signatures, an affidavit of handwriting swears that it is, in fact, the testator's handwriting.

If the testator didn't name an executor or the executor refuses the post, the testator's next of kin can apply to become the administrator for the estate. She will have to provide the death certificate and an oath of administrator.

Paying for Probate

The executor has to provide Tax Administration Jamaica, the country's tax-collection agency, with a revenue affidavit detailing the estate's assets and their value. The administration uses this information to set the transfer tax payable on the estate. Transfer tax potentially applies whenever assets are sold, given away or passed on after death.

Other expenses include the application fee for becoming executor or administrator — $2,000 Jamaican at time of writing — advertising costs to announce the testator's death to creditors and legal expenses. The money comes from the estate.

Disposing of Assets

Once the court issues the grant of probate, the executor must advertise for creditors to file claims against the estate. He pays any valid claims, then distributes the remaining assets to heirs. He should then file a record of the estate accounts with the court. The court registrar will send copies to the heirs and creditors to see if they dispute anything. If not, the estate is closed.

About the Author

A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.

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