The passage of the Administration of Small Estates (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in the National Assembly on Tuesday (August 23) will expedite the legal process for an individual to inherit or disburse the estate of a deceased person valued at $25,000 or below.
An amendment to the Bill was brought before the National Assembly in November 2015. The Attorney General, Honourable Vincent Byron Jr., explained that the amendment “sought to make changes to a Bill that had been introduced to facilitate ordinary poor people in winding up estates of the deceased and to whom they were entitled to various inheritance, thus extending the jurisdiction by which someone who had passed away and had left an estate behind can have this processed in a relatively quick and easy way, a less cumbersome manner than what would pertain if one was to wind up a larger estate than the then jurisdiction.”
“By jurisdiction I mean that if somebody passed away and left behind valuable possessions, a car, and various types of equipment less than $5,000, one could go to the Registry of the High Court and fill out a simple one page document under this Small Estate Act,” he said. “It allowed for the Registrar or the staff of the Registry to prepare a report indicating the simple assets that had been left and so this was seen to have been a relatively quick process when compared with larger estates above the $5000 threshold so that if somebody left a house, two houses, a large amount in a bank, if somebody had various assets worth more than $5,000 it required the preparation of various documents and more than likely required someone to go to a lawyer to assist them. They would have to prepare various documents, affidavits, and a bond that would then have to be filed at the law court.”
“What this  amendment is going to do is to bring the smallest estates process under the same process of larger estates so that now just as the [High Court] Registrar can process an application for probate, an application for letters of administration, … the Registrar will now be able to take this onerous task from the Judge and do it similarly at the High Court Registry.”
The Attorney General said that this will help to eliminate the more than 300 applications currently backlogged, awaiting attention from the High Court Judge. “We believe that this will be more efficient; it’s procedural; it would speed up the process,” he said.
Some persons still awaiting payment from the Sugar Workers Restoration Fund for qualifying family members, who are deceased, will be among the beneficiaries.
During the latest “Discussion for Prosperity” town hall meeting in Dieppe Bay last evening, Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, said he regretted the delays that have resulted from the matters being delayed in the Registry but said there was no other legal option.
“We today (August 23) took to the Parliament a Bill to ensure that we can fast track the payment to the families of former sugar workers who are deceased,” he told the audience. “We are making it easier for you.”
Dr. Harris said this was a clear case of how the Government continues to serve the population repeating the catch line “We are Working for You.”