Wills, Estates & Probate

   
If the deceased left a will, then the person named in the will as the executor is responsible for the deceased’s estate – determining their assets and distributing them in accordance with the will, and paying any debts, court fees and taxes.

If there is no will or the will does not name an executor, then the responsibility passes (in order of priority) to:

  1. The surviving spouse
  2. Children of the deceased
  3. Father or mother of the deceased
  4. ‘Whole blood’ brothers and sisters – i.e. who share the same mother and father as the deceased

Once the executor has confirmed the assets and liabilities of the estate, he or she must apply to the Supreme Court for a Grant of Probate (if there is a will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (if there is no will) before the assets of the will can be distributed to beneficiaries and money released from the deceased’s bank accounts, insurance policies, etc.

Managing and settling an estate is a complex business that can take a very long time. Unless you are familiar with the process and confident that you can carry it out, it is strongly recommended that you use a lawyer.  

However, if a person’s estate is valued at less than $50,000 and does not include any property, you can apply for a Certificate in Lieu of Probate without the need for a lawyer by filling out a Small Estate Information Form and sending it to the Supreme Court Registry. You will also have to provide a copy of the Coroner’s Report.  The Registry will then check with all the Island’s financial institutions to make sure there are no other outstanding assets or liabilities, gather all the necessary information and documents and process the application. Once the certificate is obtained, it can then be presented to banks, insurance companies, etc. to release accounts or settle claims.  

The Small Estate Information Form and others can be downloaded from the Bermuda Government webpage How to probate an estate in Bermuda which also provides more detailed information about the legal process and requirements.


USEFUL ADDRESS

Supreme Court
113 Front Street
Hamilton HM12
Bermuda
(441) 292 1350