Citizens Advice Bureau



Dealing with an estate after death

Extent: Jersey
Updated 30 October 2015 

Words you may need to know

Estate - a dead person's property and everything they own, and owe, is called their estate

Will - this is a legal document that the person made before they died saying what they wanted to happen to all their property after their death.

Immovable/ moveable estate -  In Jersey, if you have a house or land you need two wills, one of Immovable estate (land, houses, property and some leases etc which don't move) and one for your moveable estate such as  money , paintings jewellery etc

Executor - someone who  has been named as the person who is going to take care of everything after death. This is usually a partner, friend or lawyer.

Vests - To settle something, give. Legal ownership of the land/ house is deemed to be the property of who it has been left to in the will.

Property title - this is the legal ownership of the property

Statute - Government made laws

Matrimonial home - the home where the couple lived

Testator - the person who makes the will

Devise/d - a gift by will

Probate - this is the legal process that states a will is valid and the Executors are authorised to handle the estate

Renounce - The refusal or giving up of the role of Executor

Executor Dative - Agent/ person appointed by the court who will act as Executor

Debts - this is money owed to someone. The person owing the money is called a Debtor, (in this case the dead person) and the person owed the money is called a Creditor

Assets - something of value belonging to someone

Residue - what is left over

Heirs - the person who is going to inherit the estate

Reversion - the rights to use something before it returns to an owner, either the former owner or their heirs

Distribution - handing out or giving of things to people

Descendant/s - someone who was related to someone who lived in the past

Wedlock - the people were husband and wife


Who deals with the estate

A Will of immovable estate needs no Executor because from the date of death to the date the Will is registered, the property "vests" in the heirs of the deceased. When the Will is registered the property title passes to the beneficiary/ies automatically and duty must be paid.

Stamp duty has to be paid on the value of any property or land (Immovable estate) when it is transferred into the ownership of the person who has inherited it.

Scale for immovable property:



Less than £50,000

50p for each £100 or part of £100 With a minimum fee of £10.00

£50,000 to £300,000

£250 for the first £50,000 plus £1.50 for each £100 or part of £100 thereafter

£300,000 to £500,000

£4000 in respect of the first £300,000 plus £2 for each £100 or part of £100 thereafter

£500,000 to £700,000

£8000 in respect of the first £500,000 plus £2.50 for each £100 or part of £100 thereafter.

Exceeds £700,000

£13,000 in respect of the first £700,000 plus £3.00 for each £100 or part of £100 thereafter

The Registry requires two valuations of the property when the application is from a member of the public. There is a fee of £200.00 for a personal application to register a Will of immovable estate.

1.      If whoever inherits the property under the Will is the same person who would have inherited it if no Will had been made (they would have had the right under statute) then the fee to be paid is £80 in the case of a professional application for each document registered, or £200 in any other case for each document registered.


2.         If for some reason the Will is subsequently annulled by the Court, you can apply to the Greffier for the Treasurer of the States to pay back the amount paid or what the Greffier decides.


If the matrimonial home was bought as joint tenants, the interest in the property passes to the surviving spouse on the death of the husband/wife. There is no need to register the Will of immovable property.

Where the testator gives to their spouse a property which, at the time of their death, was their matrimonial home, the net value of that property shall not be taken into consideration deciding the value of the immovable property devised.

Inherited immovable property should not be sold for a 'year and a day' from date of registration of the Will in the Public Registry unless an insurance policy is taken out. The reason for this is that should another Will be found leaving the property to someone else, the person selling the property would not have had good title to sell it; it would not have been theirs to sell.

When someone has died leaving a Will there will usually be a person named as Executor(s) to handle the movable estate.

The wording of the Will regarding Executors is important. If more than one Executor is appointed 'jointly' all Executors must apply for probate. If the appointment is "joint or severally" one or all can apply for probate. If more than one Executor is appointed and only described by name, the appointment is regarded as "jointly and severally".

An Executor does not wish to act

A named Executor cannot just refuse to act. They would have to renounce the duty formally through the Courts and if no alternative Executor had been named in the Will, the Registrar of Probate would appoint "an Executor dative". The process to renounce Executorship will be explained by the Judicial Greffier.

An Executor dies

If an Executor dies and there are other surviving Executors then these Executors can deal with the estate. If an Executor dies after the person who made the Will and there are no other Executors, then the position is more complicated. In this case an Executor dative will usually be appointed to deal with the estate and distribute it according to the terms of the Will. There are special rules about who can be an Executor Dative in these circumstances. You should see a lawyer if the Executors of a Will are no longer alive. The Executor Dative would be appointed by the Registrar of Probate subject to certain conditions.

What to do first

The Executor must telephone the office of the Judicial Greffier to make sure that the correct documents and information are available.

The Executor will have to visit the office of the Judicial Greffier to swear the Oath of Executor, promising honestly to distribute the estate of the deceased. Before an appointment is made to swear the Oath of Executor, the Executor must be able to provide details of the value of the estate and any debts owed, so that stamp duty can be paid. The applicant will be given guidance notes by the probate Department of the Judicial Greffe as how to administer the estate.

If the Executor(s) wish for a lawyer to act on their behalf

It is not unusual for the family lawyer to be asked to act on behalf of the Executor, and a power of attorney is all that is required. The charges for the lawyer's services will be borne by the estate, with the agreement of the beneficiaries.

Valuing the estate for probate

Valuation of the estate should be as at the date of death, and must be made by producing bank statements/books, share certificates, valuations of chattels (furniture etc.). It is possible for an estimate to be made, and the amount of stamp duty paid will be adjusted when the correct valuation is available later. Insurance policy bonuses must be included in the valuation.

At this stage any valuables or items requiring care, for instance a car, jewellery etc should be removed to a place of safety by the Executor to make sure that the deceased's property is secure.

Valuing the debts of the deceased's estate for probate

Debts taken into account in the net valuation of the estate include funeral expenses, medical expenses relating to the final illness, income tax due at the date of death and other creditors such as outstanding utility bills such as gas, electricity etc.

Stamp duty

Although there are no death duties, estate duties or capital transfer tax in Jersey, it is necessary to pay revenue stamps to the Judicial Greffe when the Oath of Executor is sworn. The amount to be paid is calculated on a sliding scale dependent on the net value of the movable estate, i.e. the total asset value less the total debt sum.

Scale of Movable Estate:



Less than £10,000


Between £10,000 and £100,000

£50 per £10,000 (or part thereof)

More than £100,000

£500 for first £100,000 then £75 for each additional £10,000 (or part thereof)

Plus professional application fee of £80.00

Personal application fee of £200.00

How to pay the revenue stamp duty

There may be a problem where the only funds available to pay the stamp duty are held in an account which will not be unfrozen until probate has been obtained. The Executor may ask beneficiaries or heirs to pay for the stamps due on what they are to inherit, or the bank may be prepared to loan money against the estate to help settle this and other outstanding bills before probate. The revenue stamps are bought at the States Treasury in Cyril Le Marquand House, and taken to the Judicial Greffe.

Swearing the Oath of Executor

Once the official at the Judicial Greffe is satisfied as to the identity of the person before him and that all documents are in order the Oath is sworn, stamp duty paid together with the relevant application fee.

The Grant of Probate

Usually Grants of Probate are available from the Judicial Greffe within 7/10 days of swearing the oath. The document bears a Royal Court Seal and is attached to a copy of the Will signed by the Executor which should not be removed. The Grant of Probate is valid only within the jurisdiction of the Royal Court of Jersey.

Gathering the assets

The Grant of Probate provides the Executor with the necessary authority to gather the assets of the deceased. It is an offence under the Probate (Jersey) Law 1998 to recover assets prior to the issue of the Grant of Probate, known as 'intermeddling'. Taking possession of chattels such as furniture and personal effects should be fairly simple. Cashing in investments may not be so straightforward.

It is advisable for the Executor to open a bank account in the name of the estate through which funds can be handled. If the estate consists of investments which may take time to realise, then an account which offers reasonable interest rates during the interim should be opened. Income tax will be payable on interest accrued from the estate.

The Executor should contact the bank(s) where investments and funds are held in writing, enclosing the Grant of Probate and asking that the funds be surrendered and/or transferred to the account of the estate.

The Death Grant payable by the Social Security Department can be claimed by the Executor and used towards the funeral and other expenses of the estate.

If the deceased owned shares in a Jersey company, the company secretary should be contacted and shown the probate documents and the share certificates in the deceased's name so that the shares can eventually be re-registered in the name of the beneficiary.

Where assets are held 'jointly and for the survivor', such assets will pass to the survivor upon the death of the first party. The survivor is then considered to have received a gift of one half of the assets from the deceased party as at the date of death. Such gift is legally classed as 'an advance'.

Where the deceased leaves child/ren who are entitled to a share of the estate, the division of the estate will be affected by whether all the assets of the couple are in joint names, or whether the deceased had some other assets in their own name:

If all the assets are held in joint names, the survivor can keep everything from the joint assets by way of survivorship, because s/he lays no claim to any part of the deceased's estate which was in her/his name alone (as in this case it does not exist).
If some of the deceased's assets were in her/his own name and the surviving partner decided to claim a share of those assets in addition to the joint assets s/he would receive as a survivor, then the child/ren could legally claim their share of the deceased's estate in sole name, plus their share of the half the joint assets.

To obtain assets after a death all that is usually required is for the survivor to produce a copy of the death certificate to the asset holders, e.g. Banks etc. In the case of share transfer property, a copy of the death certificate should be lodged with the Company Secretary who will then issue a new certificate in the survivor's name.

Investments outside Jersey

Many people own shares in non-Jersey companies. Probate may have to be obtained in each and every foreign jurisdiction where the deceased held shares.

Income tax

The Grant of Probate must be sent to the Comptroller of Income Tax together with an income tax return for the portion of the year that elapsed prior to the date of death. The deceased's tax liability for this period is then calculated, giving the normal allowances.

The estate is also liable for income tax, however, and is taxed at the standard rate of 20p in the pound on any interest that arises, and any other income acquired during the period between the date of death and final distribution of the estate.

Distributing the estate

Once all the assets are gathered in, the Executor can pay all the debts owed by the deceased and arising from the estate, e.g. funeral expenses, Executor's expenses, income tax liabilities. The Executor is no longer entitled to the income arising on the movable estate during the year that follows the testator's death, but they can make reasonable charges to cover the expenses incurred in administering the estate.

The Executor may then distribute the estate in accordance with the Will. Bequests will fall into three categories:

1.      Bequests of chattels (i.e. specific items of furniture or personal effects, e.g. jewellery)

2.      Bequests of money ("Pecuniary Legacies")

3.      Residuary bequests (e.g. "15% of the residue of my estate to my cousin, Peter")

Where there is to be a division of the assets, to include chattels, it is useful if the Executor has had such items valued so that a fair distribution can be made. Chattels may have to be auctioned to allow for their value to be equally shared.

After all specified bequests have been made, what remains of the estate is the "residue", and this will have to be dealt with last.

Preparing a statement/accounts

It is essential that the Executor should keep written records of all assets collected, debts paid, tax due, and bequests paid out of the estate. In the event of the Executor's role being challenged by a beneficiary or the Court it would be impossible for them to defend themselves without records being available. It is also helpful to be able to show relatives/friends of the deceased who may feel aggrieved if they receive less than they expected from the estate, just how the estate was administered.


Who deals with the estate?

There must always be a person with proper authority to administer the movable estate when someone dies. If there was no Will then these duties fall to a person known as the Administrator. The Administrator will normally be the deceased's eldest son, or if no sons, the eldest daughter or, where they were childless, their eldest brother or sister. In certain circumstances it can also be a surviving spouse. Advice must be sought from the Judicial Greffe as to who should apply for Letters of Administration. In the case of a minor dying, no Administrator is necessary if there are no assets at all. Where there are assets, e.g. inheritance or savings etc., a Tutelle must be formed on behalf of the siblings (if any) so the parent(s) should take legal advice.

What to do first

The Administrator should get an application form for Letters of Administration, which is the authority given by the Judicial Greffier for the person to act.

The Administrator must swear an Oath at the offices of the Judicial Greffier, promising to honestly distribute the estate of the deceased.

From this stage onwards the duties of the Administrator mirror those of the Executor of a Will up until the distribution of the estate. Instead of being given a Grant of Probate, the administrator receives Letters of Administration. If there is immovable estate, the administrator should seek legal advice.

Deceased has left a letter / note, but no Will

It is possible for the family or friends of the deceased to ask the Court for a ruling on whether a letter or note of the deceased's wishes could be considered to be a Will. In a case, dated 6 September 1995, the Court ruled that an undated suicide note was valid as a Will. Evidence was heard that the deceased was of sound mind, the signature was his, and date could be proved to time of death because it was written on a work schedule. This unique case has set a precedent. Advice can be sought from the Registrar of Probate at the Judicial Greffe.

Distribution of the estate

As the Administrator has no Will to guide them,  they must follow the provisions of the Wills and Successions (Jersey) Law 1993 as amended by the Wills and Successions (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 2010. The surviving spouse and any offspring are the persons most likely to inherit. The following table shows how the movable and immovable estate should be distributed.

Distribution of Immovable Estate

Situation of Deceased



Heirs at Law

Leaving no surviving spouse or descendants

Heirs at Law

Leaving no surviving spouse but leaving descendants

Heirs at Law

Leaving a surviving spouse but no descendants

Surviving spouse takes all

Leaving a surviving spouse and descendants

Surviving spouse has life enjoyment of the matrimonial home and interest in the reversion with the descendants. Surviving spouse and descendants take equal shares in any other remaining property.


Distribution of Movable Estate

Situations of Deceased



Heirs at Law

Leaving no surviving spouse or descendants

Heirs at Law

Leaving no surviving spouse but descendants


Leaving a surviving spouse but no descendants

Surviving spouse takes all net movable estate

Leaving a surviving spouse and descendants

Surviving spouse takes household effects, other movable estate to the value of £30,000 and 1/2 the rest of the net movable estate. Descendants take remaining 1/2 of net movable estate.

Share transfer property

Where a property is owned by share transfer the shares form part of a person’s Movable Estate.

Divorce and Separation

Following divorce, one partner has no rights to inherit from the other in cases of intestacy. Separated spouses may inherit from an intestate partner, but the right may be challenged by other parties, e.g. children if "desertion without cause" is involved. The onus of proof is on the challenger, and anyone in such a situation must seek legal advice.

Heirs at Law

In every instance, legal advice should be taken.

An Amendment to the Wills and Successions (Jersey) Law 1993 which was approved by the States on 23 March 2010 treats an illegitimate child the same as one born in wedlock.

The Wills and Successions (Amendment No.2) (Jersey) Law 2013 will confer the same right of dower to civil partners as would be conferred upon a widow or widower when approved and enacted by the States.

The Civil Partnership (Jersey) Law 2012 confers on civil partners the same rights and responsibilities as married couples.

The estate is in debt

If there are not enough assets or property to meet all the debts of the estate then legal advice should be taken.