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The role of the executor of a will

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After a person dies, the will becomes effective. It must now be produced for the guidance of the executor.

It is likely that the testator would have put it in a safe place, perhaps with other important documents. He may have left it with the executor or with his lawyer. {{more}}

The work of the executor/executrix or personal representative now begins. He must find out whether the deceased had made any provision for his last rites.

The will could provide information as to whether he should be buried or cremated (there are no provisions for cremation in SVG but this is done in Grenada, our nearest neighbor). It may state the place where the remains would be buried

As mentioned before the last will is the valid will. If there are problems with will the executor will have to approach the court to resolve them. There is a body of case laws which the lawyer would have to explore in order to plead your case.

Although the law does not prohibit an individual from applying personally to have the will probated it is the practice to retain a solicitor to draft the documents. He must file a bundle of documents. Among these documents is an authorization, giving the lawyer authority to make the application.

One executor must provide an affidavit/oath to lead the grant. The other executor must be notified of the intention to lead the grant. Where there are minor children, the oath must be signed jointly by the two executors. If there is only one executor named in the will then another must be appointed.

The oath is the most important document and the filing fee is $50. Another document that must be filed is an affidavit by one of the witnesses indicating that he /she had seen the testator sign or acknowledge his will. A blind person cannot witness a will. If the will includes gifts of real property (house and land) a valuation of the property must be done and a certificate filed.

The value of the property must be given around the time of the death of the testator and not at the time the will is probated. It is especially useful for a record of the transfer of property in SVG. This document is normally sent to the Chief Surveyor for verification.

Another document included is the statement of assets and liabilities declaration. This is a standard form that is issued by the Registry. In order to compile this, the lawyer must write to all the banks, credit unions, the deceased’s employers for statements on his assets.

The will and a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased must be included in the bundle. A filing fee of $5 in stamps is required for each document.

Estate and succession duties are no longer required for property but a duty is charged on money. A member of the income tax department is attached to the probate division where the probate files are processed to deal with the matter of duties.

The Registrar of the High Court who is in charge of the probate division will examine the document to make sure they are in order. He/she endorses the grant and a certificate is issued. All fees must however be paid before the certificate is issued.

The executor can now distribute the estate. If a part of the estate of the deceased was inadvertently left out an application could be made to the Registrar for an amendment.