"A grant of representation is a document which allows someone to administer the deceased's personal property, not their 'real' property such as a house or other dwelling."
"Guernsey real property is dealt with by way of registration of the "Guernsey will of realty" at the Greffe, which must be done by an Advocate."

Probate in Guernsey

17 Jun 2019

When somebody dies leaving assets in Guernsey the deceased's personal representative needs to apply to the Ecclesiastical Court in Guernsey for a grant of representation in order to properly deal with their assets (known as their estate).

The Ecclesiastical Court's existence can be traced back to the 13th century when Guernsey was still a part of the Norman Empire. Today, the Ecclesiastical Court performs unique functions in Guernsey, which for many jurisdictions across the world have been incorporated into their civil courts systems, such as the granting of marriage licences, proving of wills and the processing of grants of representation.

A grant of representation is a document which allows someone to administer the deceased's personal property, not their 'real' property such as a house or other dwelling. Applying for a grant of representation in Guernsey in a relatively straightforward process.

There are three usual scenarios where a grant of representation is necessary:

  • If someone dies leaving a will, a Guernsey grant of probate is required. In a will, the deceased would have appointed an executor and this is the person who has authority to wind up the estate. 
  • If someone dies leaving a will and the executor is unable/unwilling to act, a Guernsey grant of letters of administration with the will attached is required. In this case, the person entitled to the residue of the deceased's personal estate is entitled to apply for the grant and wind up the estate.
  • If someone dies without leaving a will, a Guernsey grant of letters of administration is required. If the deceased was ordinarily resident in Guernsey the person first entitled to administer those assets would be the surviving spouse followed by any adult children (in order of seniority) and then any adult grandchildren (in order of seniority). 

In each of the above scenarios if the deceased was domiciled in another jurisdiction and a grant is required to deal with Guernsey based assets then a grant from the jurisdiction where the deceased was ordinarily resident should be obtained first.

A grant of representation isn’t always required and enquiries with the asset manager should be made to see if it is necessary. For example, relatively small balances in banks and share portfolio (typically under £10,000) do not generally require a grant to release the assets. Furthermore, if the assets are held in joint names the assets may transfer to the surviving account holder upon notification to the asset manager.

A grant of representation only gives power to those named in it to deal with the deceased's personal estate. Guernsey real property is dealt with by way of registration of the "Guernsey will of realty" at the Greffe, which must be done by an Advocate.

Documents
If the Guernsey grant is the only grant to be obtained then the following documents are required:

  • Death certificate;
  • Original Guernsey will (if there is one); and
  • Confirmation from the asset manager(s) that the assets are in the deceased's sole name, a Guernsey grant is required to release the assets and the sterling value of the asset(s) as at the date of death.

If a grant from another jurisdiction has already been obtained then the following information is required:

  • Court sealed and certified copy of the grant with will annexed (if there is one);
  • Death certificate;
  • Confirmation from the asset manager(s) that the assets are in the deceased's sole name, a Guernsey grant is required to release the assets and the sterling value of the asset(s) as at the date of death.

In order to obtain letters of administration, an affidavit needs to provided with the application confirming who is entitled to share in the estate under the law of domicile of the deceased. If the deceased was domiciled in Guernsey we can complete this as Guernsey Advocates. However if the deceased was domiciled in another jurisdiction we would need to seek advice from lawyers in that jurisdiction as to their particular inheritance regime.

If any of the documents are not in English, the Ecclesiastical Court will require official translations from a government or court appointed translator.

It should also be noted that the Ecclesiastical Court in Guernsey will not recognise a power of attorney that has been granted by an executor in probate proceedings from another jurisdiction. In such cases we would have to request that the court prepares a Guernsey Power of Attorney which will have to be completed again by the executor.

Procedure
The Ecclesiastical Court in Guernsey deals with applications for grants of representation. There is no requirement for personal attendance at the Ecclesiastical Court by either the Executor, Administrator or an Advocate. Upon supplying the Ecclesiastical Court with the requisite information the court will then produce an Oath for Executor/Administrator which should be sworn before a Notary Public (whether in Guernsey or in another jurisdiction). We would then return the notarised Oath to the Court and the Guernsey grant would be available for us to collect soon after.

In Guernsey, executors are advised to publish notices in La Gazette Officielle on two weekly occasions. These notify all creditors having any claim or claiming to be beneficially interested in the estate of the deceased to contact the executor by a certain date (typically three months), failing which the executor will distribute the assets among the persons entitled to them. The effect of these notices is to limit the executor's liability from six years to three months upon which any claim brought against the estate will be against the beneficiaries of the estate and not the executor. Please note, though, that advertising is not a formal requirement under Guernsey law.

Costs
Court fees for an application are calculated on a sliding scale in relation to the gross value of the estate. If probate has not been obtained in another jurisdiction first, the court fees are calculated on the gross worldwide estate value as at the date of death. If a grant from another jurisdiction has been granted already, the court fees are calculated based on the gross value of only the Guernsey assets.

There may also be charges for notices in La Gazette Officielle if so desired. These notices are approximately £240 x2.

Please contact us for details of our fees.

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