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  • Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, has hailed the passage of the Administrator General (Amendment) Act 2015, noting that it will allow ordinary Jamaicans to use inherited assets, particularly land, in a productive way.
  • He was contributing to debate on the Bill, which was recently passed in the House of Representatives.
  • Minister Pickergill said the Act resolves several issues, which have for decades, negatively impacted the ability of beneficiaries to put inherited property to productive use.

Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, has hailed the passage of the Administrator General (Amendment) Act 2015, noting that it will allow ordinary Jamaicans to use inherited assets, particularly land, in a productive way.

He was contributing to debate on the Bill, which was recently passed in the House of Representatives.

The Act seeks to, among other things, speed up the estate administration process in Jamaica, by establishing a framework for the efficient management of multi-generational and intestate property (where the owner dies without leaving a valid will) involving minors.

It also empowers the Administrator-General (AG) to transfer property to secondary beneficiaries, as long as they are able to prove their relationship to the deceased owner.

The Bill is also expected to assist in clearing the backlog of estate matters at the AG’s Department. Additionally, it will effect far reaching changes pertaining to how persons can inherit land, and benefit from the Government’s land titling programme.

Minister Pickergill said the Act resolves several issues, which have for decades, negatively impacted the ability of beneficiaries to put inherited property to productive use.

“It has been specifically tailored to address the peculiar cultural, social and economic realities of Jamaica as they relate to the passing of property from one generation to the next,” he pointed out.

He argued that when an estate remains un-administered for decades, it became a lengthy and costly exercise for a small landowner to “wade through the legal quagmire to obtain some document to prove that he owns the land so that he can successfully register his land.”

“Little wonder that they often give up this pursuit and, as a result, nearly half of the over 800,000 land parcels in Jamaica remain unregistered,” he lamented, noting that the reform of the law will facilitate the transfer and use of assets, which have been in a dormant state for decades.

In closing the debate on the Bill, Attorney General, Patrick Atkinson, said it will provide relief to beneficiaries while protecting the rights of minors and children.

He said it is the policy of the Government, in cases where persons die intestate and also in instances where they leave a will, that the framework for the distribution of assets be “amended and brought up-to-date.”

“The problem is so egregious that there are…several cases where estates are being delayed for over 25 years, particularly those described as multi-generational,” Mr. Atkinson said.

Other Members of Parliament who contributed to the debate included: Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites; Minister with responsibility for Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy; Pearnel Charles; Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert; and Edmund Bartlett.

The Bill, which was passed with two amendments in the Senate on April 10, also makes consequential amendments to 10 other Acts.