Making a will in Jersey for non-Jersey domiciled individuals

06 November 2018

This briefing explains when you should make a Jersey will if you are not domiciled in Jersey. It only deals with movable assets in Jersey and not, therefore, land or other immovable property situate in Jersey.

Where am I domiciled?
Under Jersey law, your domicile of origin is that of your legal father at the time of your birth (or, if there was no legal father then alive, that of your mother). A person’s domicile of origin can be changed to a domicile of choice, by moving on a permanent basis to a new jurisdiction, creating binding ties with it and severing ties with the domicile of origin. Unless you can show that this has happened, there is a presumption that your domicile of origin still applies.

Why is domicile important?
Usually, the laws of your jurisdiction of domicile will determine the taxes that are payable on your world-wide estate (although some jurisdictions will tax your estate if you are a national or resident there). The laws of your jurisdiction of domicile usually also determine the beneficiaries to whom you must leave some of your assets or potential beneficiaries who may make a claim on some of your assets when you die. It is, therefore, essential that you consult a lawyer in the jurisdiction of your domicile before you make a Jersey will.

Do I have Jersey movable assets?
Movable assets in Jersey include: bank accounts at banks incorporated in or with branches in Jersey, shares in companies incorporated in Jersey, insurance policies issued under seal in Jersey, debts owed by individuals and companies resident in Jersey, and tangible assets situate in Jersey.

Do I need to make a Jersey will?
A Jersey will is not a necessity, especially if you already have a will, wherever it was made, that is wide enough to cover your assets in Jersey (but see below as to its benefits). If you own an asset jointly, for example, a bank account in joint names with your spouse, in such a way that when the first one of you dies, his or her share of that asset automatically passes to the survivor, a will is not required at that stage. However, when the survivor of you dies, he or she would need to have a will to cover that Jersey asset and, as you cannot pre-determine who will be the survivor, both joint owners should consider making a will.

What if I die without a will?
If you die without a will which covers your Jersey assets, the Jersey courts will look to the law of your jurisdiction of domicile to determine who will inherit your estate in Jersey.

Multiple wills
Some individuals may have been advised to make a will in each jurisdiction in which they own assets. Such people may, therefore, have any number of valid wills at any one time. In such situations, it is essential that every lawyer instructed to draft a will is aware of all other wills that are in place. This is to ensure that one will does not inadvertently revoke another will.

Benefits of a Jersey will
Even if you have a will made elsewhere that governs your Jersey assets, you may still decide to make a separate Jersey will, which will exclude your Jersey assets from that other will and deal with them exclusively. The main reasons for doing so would be to speed up the probate process on death and facilitate your executor's access to your Jersey assets. For example, the will of a UK domiciled individual in the UK, which covers his English and Jersey assets, must first go through the English probate procedure. Only then can a Jersey grant of probate be applied for. However, the English grant of probate cannot be obtained until the UK inheritance tax that is due has been paid. In such circumstances, having a separate Jersey will and being able to obtain a Jersey grant of probate could free up the Jersey assets in order to pay the UK inheritance tax.

Should I consult a lawyer?
Since it is essential that wills are drafted and signed in the correct way, it is advisable for a Jersey lawyer to be instructed to prepare and advise on the will. That lawyer can also advise you as to whether it is appropriate for you to make a Jersey will.

Can I make a will?
Provided you are at least 18 years old, or married, or in a civil partnership, you can make a will.

Bedell Cristin does not usually provide individual or corporate named executors for non-Jersey individuals. However, our executorship company, Bedell Cristin Executors Limited, is often appointed as an attorney for a named executor in order to take out the grant of probate. You may appoint one or more individuals to be your executors and they may be members of your family and/or beneficiaries of your will and/or professional persons in your own jurisdiction. You should, however, check whether there are any adverse taxation implications in the jurisdiction where the proposed executor is resident, or domiciled, or of which he/she is a national.

Who can be the beneficiaries?
You may appoint individuals of whatever age, companies and trustees of a trust as beneficiaries. In respect of each beneficiary, you should consider and provide in your will for what will happen in the event that a beneficiary should die (or cease to exist, in the case of a company or trust) before you. You should note that the terms of your will cannot override any claims a person may have on your estate under the laws of your jurisdiction of domicile.

Your world-wide creditors are entitled to claim against your estate wherever it is situate and no matter which will governs your assets.

Storage of wills
We are able to retain original wills in an appropriate fire-proof store and do not charge fees for this service.

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