Wills have long evolved from Hodson v Barnes [1926] 43 TLR 71 where the Testator's intentions were accepted as canvassed on an eggshell. In an ever expanding global market which often necessitates complex and rigid domestic legislation, conflicts of laws have made the area of Wills and Probate a topic worth discussing with an Attorney.

A most frequently asked question in practice is whether a Will is needed for each jurisdiction in which assets are located. Whilst it is possible for a Will to attempt to dispose assets sited in various jurisdictions, its success is not guaranteed as domestic legislation (such as forced heirship provisions) may prevail. It is therefore strongly advisable that legal advice be sought from an Attorney in each jurisdiction where assets are located.

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The fundamental reason for making a Will is choice. If a Will is not prepared, then the Testator loses control over his estate following his death. As a result, an undesired person may become responsible for administering the estate of the deceased or worse still such a person may acquire some or all of the deceased's assets contrary to their wishes. Additionally, a Will can make provisions for the maintenance of minor children and express the Testator's wishes for the disposal of his body. As with most jurisdictions, here in the Cayman Islands if a person dies intestate (without a Will) the estate is distributed according to the Succession Law irrespective of the deceased's intentions.

If a Will has already been executed but the Testator has married or divorced this may revoke a Will even if in contradiction to the Testator's intention as to the disposal of his estate. Thus, revising a Will in such circumstances is as equally important as having one executed. Likewise, a Will should be reviewed and updated if necessary, upon the birth of any additional children to the Testator.

Perhaps one of the most desirable aspects of living in the Cayman Islands is the absence of direct taxation such as Inheritance Tax. A notable development is the recent Unites States passing of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Consequentially, thought must now be given to both the acquisition and disposal of assets upon the death of the Testator which may now be subject to US taxation.

The Cayman Islands is guided by various legislation in relation to the formalities associated with Wills and the process of Probate. At Solomon Harris we boast over 10 years experience in estate planning including the drafting and probating of Cayman Wills. Please contact us to secure your assets and assist in ensuring your intentions are fulfilled.

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