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Intestacy occurs where an individual dies without leaving a Will. If an individual dies intestate and there are minor beneficiaries the Administrator-General is mandated by the Intestate’s Estates and Property Charges Act to administer the estate. Any person other than the Administrator-General who wishes to administer an estate of an individual who dies intestate where there are minor beneficiaries can only do so with an Order of the Court.
Once a report is received about persons who have died intestate leaving minor children in the form of completed Particulars required for the Administrator-General, the Administrator-General like other personal representatives will:
Investigate and confirm the assets of the deceased:
This involves the following:
Where the deceased owned property securing the relevant documents with regards to ownership. Additionally information is ascertained as to whether there is any outstanding mortgage and if it was covered by insurance. Relevant documents to be obtained include:
For motor vehicles the Certificates of Title, Fitness and Registration is to be presented. If the motor vehicle was not used predominantly for commercial purposes it is transferable to the spouse as personal chattel.
The Administrator-General’s (Amendment) Act 2015, amended the Administrator-General’s Act and several other pieces of legislation including the Intestates’ Estates and Property Charges Act. Sections 53B, 53D(1), 53D(2), 53F(1), 53F(3), 53F(4) and 53G of the Intestates’ Estates and Property Charges Act gives the Administrator-General for Jamaica the authority to issue Instruments of Administration in Estates where an intestate dies leaving a minor beneficiary. This Instrument of Administration has the same effect as if a Grant of Representation had been issued by the Courts of Jamaica to the Administrator-General for Jamaica and allows the Administrator-General to collect, transfer, sell or otherwise deal with the assets of the deceased.
Where the value of the estate does not exceed $1,500,000 applications for the Letters of Administration are filed in the Resident Magistrate’s Court where the deceased had his last fixed place of residence. The stamping cost is the Resident Magistrate’s Court is minimal.
Once the grant of Administration is issued by the relevant Court, the Administrator-General (like other administrators) has the following duties:
It should be pointed out that all administrators and executors are entitled to a commission of 6% from the estate for their services, which is also paid before the distribution of the assets to the beneficiaries as well as Attorney’s fees.
This duty is particularly applicable to the Administrator-General but also relates to Executors who may have been appointed trustee under the Will of the deceased of minor children. After the settlement of claims, the Administrator-General has this function before distribution simply because the estates under her purview contain minor beneficiaries, which preclude final distribution until the last minor attains majority. As such the Administrator-General has the additional duties to:In instances when the deceased was a majority shareholder in a company; it may be necessary for the Administrator-General to become registered as a shareholder in respect of the deceased shares, attend general meetings of the company and playing other roles deemed necessary in order to preserve the value of the shares for the beneficiaries.
The class of persons next in line in the following table will take in equal share in the following order to the exclusion of those in the lower classes: