Information on wills in Jersey
How to make a will and leave a gift – Hear from Corbett Le Quesne and BCR Law
The following information is provided by the Association of Jersey Charities.
We have no doubt that you would seek professional help when arranging your Will, so this information is intended to help guide you towards what you will need to consider and discuss with your lawyer.
An introduction to wills in Jersey
A will is a legal document in which you set out how you would like your property and personal possessions (collectively known as your estate) to be dealt with after your death. It contains the names of the individuals or institutions whom you want to receive your assets.
Jersey law treats moveable and immoveable property differently for succession purposes. In Jersey it is advisable, to make separate wills for each. Your immoveable estate comprises land, freehold, flying freehold, leases over 9 years and property; your moveable estate comprises everything else including money in the bank or cash, jewellery, furniture, cars and shares
In Jersey, a Will of Realty (a Will that deals with immoveable property) needs to be read aloud in the presence of the Testator by a Jersey solicitor, Advocate or States Member. One of the witnesses needs to be a Jersey lawyer or States member (unless the Will is being signed outside Jersey in which case the qualified person can also be a Notary Public).
The Testator needs to sign both types of will in the presence of two witnesses. Both witnesses need to be present at the same time, so that all three people see each other sign.
A conversation that everyone should have
We recommend that you discuss your wishes in the event of your death with your immediate family. It is often perceived as being difficult to have a discussion about wills and funeral arrangements, but it is much easier for you to let your thoughts be known, rather than leaving key decisions to a member of your family who’ll have to guess your wishes.
It is definitely time to have the conversation when you ...
- Form a long-term relationship
- Have a child or grandchildren
- Engage in high risk activities
- Hold a high-risk job
You may be surprised that the conversation can be catapulted into a lively and enlightening discussion and your family may learn information about your past that they may not have known before, such as why you support a particular charity.
When should you make a Will?
Wills should be made and revised as your personal circumstances change. Significant events that may give rise to the need to make or alter a Will include:
- purchase of a house;
- the birth of children;
- separation and/or divorce;
- death of a spouse; and
- death of a named beneficiary.
Writing your Will
It is always advisable to see a Jersey advocate or solicitor to draw up a Will for you. There are a number of issues you should consider before a Will can be drafted. The main items you should discuss with your legal adviser are:
- Where are you domiciled?
- Do you own any property in Jersey or in any other jurisdiction?
- Have you previously made any Wills and, if so, where are they?
- Do you have any specific instructions for burial or cremation?
- Who do you wish to appoint as your Executor? This could be your lawyer, a family member or a trusted friend, for example.
- Do you wish to leave any specific gifts of money (legacies) or items (specific bequests) to any friends or family?
- Many people like to leave money to a charity in their will; are there causes you are passionate about?
- Who do you wish to appoint as the beneficiaries?
- Who do you wish to gift the remainder of your estate to?
Making changes to your Will
If you want to leave a gift to charity but have already made a Will, it’s not a problem.
If you want to change your Will, it is important not to write on the Will because that may render it invalid; you need either a new Will or a Codicil. A Codicil is an official amendment to a Will.
In the old days, if one wanted to make a minor amendment to a Will, a Codicil was the answer because it would save a secretary from having to type up pages and pages of a new Will very accurately. In these days of computers, however, it’s actually quicker and more straightforward just to produce an updated Will.
It’s also worth noting that if you have a minor change to your Will, such as a change of address, it isn’t necessary to have a new Will or Codicil; all you need to do is to put a note of the new address with the Will. A change of address doesn’t entail changing the Will and certainly doesn’t render it invalid.
Different forms of legacy
If you wish to include a gift to a Jersey Charity in your will, please give your solicitor their Association of Jersey Charities number and their address.
You may wish to leave moveable or immoveable property to be used or sold to benefit a charity. This might be something small, such as items of jewellery, or something more significant such as freehold property or land. You may find it useful to discuss the form of gift with the charity beforehand, to ensure that your intentions are fulfilled.
There are three forms of legacy you might like to consider:
- A Pecuniary Legacy is a gift of a specific cash sum in your will.
- A Residuary Legacy is the residue, or a share of the residue, of your estate after all other legacies, debts, stamp duty, inheritance tax and expenses have been paid.
- A specific legacy of moveable or immoveable property, an item such as a property or a piece of jewellery.
The Association of Jersey Charities strongly recommends that you seek professional advice when preparing your will.
A guide to gifting digital assets to charities
In today's digital age, we have a significant amount of our lives stored online. It's important to ensure that these digital assets can be dealt with in the event that we're unable to do so. This is the concern that has recently been the centre of an illuminating campaign by STEP how people can preserve their digital legacy at www.memories.step.org.
STEP focused upon how digital assets can be accessed by loved ones. In particular, social media profiles which will often store sentimental items such as photos and videos. Digital assets also increasing include items of monetary value, such as cryptocurrencies, which people want to use to make charitable legacies.
In the context of donating such legacies upon death to charities, here are three tips:
- Understanding digital assets
It's crucial to understand the nature of cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens etc. Broadly, they are digital assets stored in digital wallets and secured by private keys. It's vital that if they are intended to be gifted then this ability to transfer is provided in a secure way. This, for example, could involve the use of a seed phrase or private key.
Cryptocurrencies are unique assets because of their volatility. They have the potential to appreciate. However, there can also be significant fluctuations in value over the holding period.
- Charitable organisations capability
Consider whether the intended beneficiary has the necessary knowledge and resources to manage the cryptocurrency. Does the charity have the capability and resource to manage the digital assets? If not, alternative arrangements may need to be made.
- Legal documentation
It is important to consult with a lawyer to prepare a will which includes a digital assets clause or add such a clause to an existing will. This should detail your digital assets, provide access to them and specify how you want them handled. Furthermore, some digital asset exchanges have policies that prohibit the transfer of accounts upon death. In this regard, it is advisable for a lawyer to check the terms and conditions of the exchange.
Clearly, planning for the management of your digital assets is a crucial aspect of estate planning in the digital age. But by taking measures now, you can ensure that your digital life is handled in accordance with your philanthropic wishes.
#STEP #DigitalEstatePlanning #Philanthropy