Estate


Introduction


There are two methods by which a person's estate can be dealt with after their death. They are either by a Grant of Probate or by a Grant of Letters of Administration. Where the deceased person has left a will the beneficiaries will be seeking to get a Grant of Probate. Where the deceased person has not left a will and therefore is said to have died intestate the beneficiaries will have to get a Grant of Letters of Administration.

Procedure


In both procedures one must lodge a search in the Probate Registry to see whether there is an application already lodged for Probate or Letters of Administration. The search usually takes between four (4) to six (6) weeks. After the search is done and the Registrar has granted clearance, then the relevant documentation can be filed for the application for Probate or Letters of Administration.

It usually takes three (3) weeks for the Probate Registry to process the application and after it has been processed the Probate Registry advertises the application in one of the local newspapers on two occasions one week apart (for two weeks).

Twenty-one (21) days must elapse after the last date of the advertisement before the Registry will grant of Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. This period is to give notice to any person who believes he/she has legitimate claim to the estate of the deceased. This will enable such parties to lodge a Caveat to stop either the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration from being granted.

The entire process (if there are no queries by the Registry or competing claims) can take between 4 - 6 months.

The following documents are required for applying for a Grant of Probate:

  • Death Certificate
  • The Will
  • Inventory of the estate
  • Affidavit of a witness to the execution of the will.

The following documents may be required for applying for Letters of Administration:

  • Death Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate of Parents (if married)
  • Renunciation and consent of beneficiaries not applying
  • Birth Certificate
  • Paternity Order (in the case where a father is not named in a birth certificate).

The documents are required to prove the relationship between someone claiming to be the beneficiary of a deceased person's estate under the laws of intestacy. Sometimes it is difficult or even impossible to establish and prove relationships because death or birth or marriage certificates cannot be located. This is a very compelling reason for every person with property of any kind to make a will as it obviates the need to find certificates to prove relationships.

After the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration has been issued the Legal Personal Representative has to ensure that a Deed of Assent is prepared and executed in a case where the estate comprises real property, and the beneficiaries are given their due. In an application for Letters of Administration the Legal Personal Representative must execute a bond in an amount of twice the value of the estate and lodge it with the Registry a security to ensure that the estate is properly administered.

Wills


Gittens, Smart and Company has a long standing tradition of doing wills and other deeds. We provide a service free of charge of holding original wills in safe keeping in a secure fire proof cabinet lodged in our fire proof vault. We advise that when preparing to make a will especially in the case of elderly persons, if there could be any issue later of the soundness of the testator's mind, he/she should go and see a registered medical practitioner and have him/her certify that he/she is of sound mind. This can help prevent a contentious and protracted Grant of Probate procedure. It should also be noted that where a person cannot sign a will due to illness or illiteracy someone should certify as to the reason why the person has not signed but has used a thumb print or an "X'. In the case of illness it is again recommended that a medical practitioner certify that the person cannot sign due to illness and in the case of illiteracy someone (preferably the lawyer preparing the will) who knows that the person is illiterate should certify that this is so but that the contents of the will were read over to the person who understood its contents.

The material contained in this site provides general information on the laws of Trinidad and Tobago. Nothing in this site constitutes legal advice. Furthermore, we have no control over the websites to which we provide links to and are in no way responsible for their contents.
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