Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the function of the AGD?

The Administrator-General (AG) who is mandated to act under the Administrator General’s Act is the head of the Administrator-General’s Department (AGD).

The AGD was created in 1873 and is headed by the AG who is mandated to act under the Administrator-General’s Act. The primary function of the AG is to administer the assets of intestate estates. That is, the estate of persons who died leaving no Will. The AG, in administering estates, has to determine the liabilities payable by the estate and has responsibility to ascertain, collect, manage and distribute the assets of the estates in accordance with the laws of intestacy to beneficiaries who have proven their relationship to the deceased or to the Crown where the matter falls as Bona Vacantia i.e. there are no lawful relatives of the deceased.

The AG acts where:

  1. There are minors (persons under 18 years old) involved in the estate.*
  2. He/she is appointed Executor by the testator (i.e. the person making the Will);
  3. No Executor is appointed in the Will of the deceased;
  4. One or more Executors are named in the Will but they are dead or have renounced, that is, refused to act;
  5. A person dies without leaving any lawful descendants – Bona Vacantia.


* Where there are only adult beneficiaries in an estate capable of looking after their own interests, the AG is not mandated to act. Recent amendments to the Administrator-General’s Act in 1999 allow the AG to notify adult beneficiaries who are in disagreement of their right to apply to the Court for an Order naming any of them or someone else as the person who may apply for a grant of representation (Letters of Administration). The person so named may then make the application.

In this case, once the AG is satisfied that an applicant(s) is entitled to a Grant, he may, without prejudice to his right to apply for a Grant himself, issue a certificate consenting to the making of a grant to the applicant(s).

What is Letters of Administration and why is it necessary?

A Grant of Letters of Administration or Grant of Administration is a legal document that is issued by the Supreme Court of Judicature of Jamaica or the Resident Magistrate’s Court, where a person dies without making a Will.  

The Grant of Letters of Administration empowers the person to whom it is issued to step into the shoes of the deceased person and wind up (administer) that deceased person’s estate (assets/affairs).

Also note that the Court may also issue a Grant of Letters of Administration with the Will annexed. This is granted when the deceased person has made a Will, but has not named an Executor in the Will or the named executor is deceased or the Executor named do not prove the Will.

The person to whom a Grant of Letters of Administration is issued is called an Administrator (male) or Administratrix (female). The Grant of Letters of Administration may be issued to one or more persons simultaneously.

The authority or power of a person as Administrator/Administratrix begins from the date when the Court issues the Grant of Letters of Administration, and not before.

The first responsibility of the Administrator/Administratrix is to collect the assets (property/money/shares etc) of the deceased person and pay all liabilities including debts, funeral expense, legal costs, duties and taxes owing by the deceased person. There may also be fees associated with the application for the Grant of Letters of Administration in the Courts.

It is only after all the liabilities are paid by the Administrator/Administratrix that the remaining assets should be distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate.

Can I obtain a Death Certificate for the deceased through the AG?

No. The department with authority to issue a Death Certificate is the Registrar General’s Department. That department also has responsibility to register all births and marriages. 

They are located at: 
Twickenham Park
St. Catherine
Jamaica W.I.
Website: www.rgd.gov.jm

The Death Certificate of the deceased is a very important document and a certified copy of same must be submitted to the AGD as soon as possible after the matter has been reported to the Department. A photocopy of the Death Certificate that is signed by a Notary Public/Justice of the Peace/Commissioner of Oaths cannot be used by the Department.

How do I prove my relationship to the deceased?

The requisite documents for proof of relationship to a deceased person depends on the particular relationship.

widow/widower of the deceased needs to furnish proof of the marriage. This is done by submitting to the AGD a certified copy of the Marriage Certificate.

It is necessary that a Common Law Spouse make an application to the Court for a Declaration that he or she be considered the spouse of the deceased. In order to support such an application, the applicant must have been living with the deceased for five (5) years immediately preceding the date of his/her death and must have been a single man or single woman as the case may be.

child of the deceased needs to prove paternity. This is done by submitting to the AGD a certified copy of the Birth Certificate of the child. If the father’s name is endorsed thereon, this is sufficient proof of paternity. If it is the mother who is deceased, the endorsement of her name on the Birth Certificate is equally sufficient. 

Where the father’s name is not on the Birth Certificate of the child, the following are the means of proof of paternity:

  1. A form filled in by both parents establishing paternity and signed in the presence of a Justice of the Peace, Clerk of the Court, Registered Medical Practitioner, Minister of Religion, Marriage Officer or Midwife; OR

  2. An Affiliation Order made in any Court; OR

  3. Declaration of Paternity made by the Family Court of Supreme Court (for the purpose of succession, the Declaration should state that paternity was established during the lifetime of the father).

A brother/sister needs to submit their Birth Certificate with name of the parent of the deceased endorsed thereon.

A grandchild has to forward to the AGD the Death Certificate of their deceased parent and their Birth Certificate with the name of the deceased parent endorsed thereon.