Dealing with an estate after death
The following checklist is to help anyone who finds themselves in the role of Executor or Administrator of an estate and feels willing to carry out the duties involved.
If having looked through these notes it seems too difficult, it is possible, with the beneficiaries’ approval, to get professional help from an accountant, lawyer or bank. All will charge the estate to do so.
You can get further advice and help from Citizens Advice Jersey or the Probate Registrar :
Royal Court House,
Tel: +441534 441300
What to do first
Get the Will from the law firm holding it, if known. If not known, contact The Law Society who will write to all the law firms asking them to check their records for one.
If there is a Will, check for any medical or funeral directions and the name of the Executor.
If there is no Will, which is called intestacy, the next of kin will be the Administrator. The legal next of kin is the spouse or the closest blood relative starting with eldest child, sibling and then parent. If unsure, contact the Probate Registry at the Judicial Greffe for advice.
Contact the Funeral Directors who will organise the death certificate, death notices and funeral and will organise the Death Grant claim form from Customer and Local Services.
Make sure all property and valuables are safe, secure and insured. Check the care of any animals.
Duties of Executor or Administrator
Contact the Judicial Greffe, Probate Registry for a leaflet explaining what to do in what order.
At this stage, it is possible for either the Executor or the Administrator to get professional help. The charges can be taken out of the estate, depending on the circumstances.
Initial letters / contacts
- Beneficiaries – advise them you are administering the estate
- Bank – to register Death Certificate obtained from the Funeral Directors
- Insurance companies – life policies, house and contents, car and personal health insurers
- Customer and Local Services
- Income Tax
- Post Office
- Passport Office to cancel passport
- Credit card companies
- Registrars of Stocks and Shares
- Stockbrokers for valuation of investments
- Valuers for the personal estate – furniture, jewellery, etc.
- Valuers for the property – Estate Agent
- Landlord or Landlord’s agent if deceased was in a rented property. Any rental deposit forms part of the deceased’s estate. Rent will be payable from the estate until the accommodation has been cleared of all the deceased’s property and the keys returned.
Application for Probate or Letters of Administration
You can apply for Probate if there is a Will or Letters of Administration if there is no Will at the Judicial Greffe and you will be told in advance what you need to do. You can also get legal advice but that will have to be paid for.
You swear an Oath to administer the estate in accordance with Jersey Law. Full details will be given to you at the interview with the Probate Registrar at the Judicial Greffe.
If there is property involved, you may be advised to use a lawyer for advice.
Full details of assets and liabilities of the estate of the deceased are required.
Assets will include:
- Bank accounts
- Insurance policies
- Value of furniture, jewellery, car, etc.
Debts will include:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses
- Income Tax due at date of death
- Utility bills
- Credit cards
You should make an appointment with Probate Registrar, Judicial Greffe when all the information is ready.
You then attend the Judicial Greffe to swear an Oath.
The stamp fee will be calculated by the Judicial Greffe and an advice note will be given for the States Treasury. You then give this to the Treasury Cashiers.
The Executor or Administrator will receive Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration about seven days to ten days after the application and you can get extra copies for a fee.
Gathering the assets
You should open a bank account in name of the estate. If the account accrues interest, income tax is be payable.
The Administrator uses the Letters of Administration to register their authority to release the assets of the estate from banks, insurers, and all debtors. The Executor uses the Grant of Probate to register their authority to realise the assets of the estate from banks, insurers and all other debtors. Get bank statements from the date of death.
Pay the funeral costs.
Get refunds of insurance premiums paid since date of death if that applies
Shares held in Jersey registered companies can be re-registered in the name of the beneficiary by contacting the company secretary, producing the death certificate and Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.
Arrange the auction of chattels e.g. furniture, if applicable.
Check that all assets have been collected.
Keep accurate accounting records of everything you have done and make an inventory of the estate.
Settling the estate
Pay debts, bills and administration expenses. Keep receipts.
Check that all utility services have been transferred and insurance policies cancelled.
Complete Income Tax return to date of death, if appropriate, and pay any tax due. If an Income Tax liability is likely, sufficient money must be kept back in the estate for tax to be paid before any final distribution.
If there is to be a gravestone, leave enough money to pay the bill.
Begin to distribute the estate: Give bequests of specific items e.g. jewellery, personal effects. Get receipts from anyone you give something to.
Beneficiaries can be told of the value of what is left.
The estate accounts
Prepare a Statement of Administration which can be sent to all beneficiaries, detailing all receipts and payments.
Any residue remaining in the estate’s account can now be given out, if all beneficiaries approve the Statement. Get receipts from beneficiaries.
If there is not enough to pay debts
Debts should be paid as much as possible in an order of priority as advised by the Judicial Greffe, starting with Income Tax. If there is not enough money in the estate to pay all debts, evidence of this should be provided to creditors and the debts will be cancelled. The Executor, Administrator and beneficiaries are not liable for debts.