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All about the new fees in estate matters

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A will is a document that comes into effect after death. The person who the testator named to be the executor takes on his duty to probate the will. He or she could refuse to perform that duty making it necessary for another person to do the duties. If the executor is dead then an administrator would have to apply for administration with will annexed.

The executor as propounder, could prepare and file the will himself or appoint an attorney at law to do what is required. The attorney would prepare the relevant documents to present to the Registrar, according to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (Non-contentious) Probate and Administration of Estates Rules, No 3 of 2017.

If there is no will, that is, the testator died intestate, then a person (maybe a beneficiary) could be chosen as the administrator and will perform similar duties as the executor. He or she can instruct an attorney to prepare and file the forms and must sign them in the presence of a Notary Public. In the past the application was addressed to the Puisne judge even though the Registrar performed the duties of perusing the forms and giving the grant, but with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (Non Contentious) Probate and administration of Estate Rules, the application is addressed directly to the Registrar.

What is significant, is that stamp duties levied for the forms as filing fees, have increased, some of them by 50 percent and any affidavit required to give any explanation carries a filing fee of $100. This will include affidavit of plight and condition and finding of will, affidavit of delay. An affidavit of delay is an affidavit to apply for a grant where the application is made three years after the death of the deceased.

What is especially new is that there must be an advertisement of the filing of an application for probate and administration in a local newspaper telling the world of the action before the Registrar. This advertisement must be filed with a fee of $10. The administrator or executor has to pay the costs to the newspaper for the printing of the advertisement.

The application forms for probate and administration now carry a filing of $100. The application form is crucial, as it initiates the request for probate or administration. it does not have to be signed by the executor or administrator, but the person who is filing the documents must be given on this document.

The last will and testament carries a filing fee of $25. A search has to be done to show that no other application has been filed or is pending. This must be presented with a filing fee of $10. Any exhibit, such as deeds, or paper memorandum, carry filing fees of $20 and the oath by the executor is also $20.

Valuation of properties, land or house could be costly. You must engage valuation personnel of your choice, but it does not mean that the valuation would always stand, because it has to go through another hurdle with the approval of the government’s valuators. Valuators sometimes use drones to get a full view of the property and the fact-finding procedure could be costly. They also have to personally visit the property that is being valued. The highest filing fees could be that of the valuation form. If the value of the estate exceeds $5,000, the Declaration of the value of the estate will be $1,000.

When everything is approved, a grant of probate or a grant of administration is given and a $100 filing fee must be attached.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law. E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com

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