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Story Highlights

  • Debate on the Administrator-General’s (Amendment) Bill, which aims to speed up the estate administration process in Jamaica, started in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 19.
  • The Bill seeks to amend the Administrator-General’s Act to establish a framework for the Administrator-General (AG) to efficiently administer multi-generational estates and intestate estates
  • It also empowers the Administrator-General to transfer properties to secondary beneficiaries, as long as they are able to prove their relationship to the deceased owner.

Debate on the Administrator-General’s (Amendment) Bill, which aims to speed up the estate administration process in Jamaica, started in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 19.

The Bill seeks to amend the Administrator-General’s Act to establish a framework for the Administrator-General (AG) to efficiently administer multi-generational estates and intestate estates (where the owner dies without leaving a valid will) involving minors.

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

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

In opening the debate on the Bill, Attorney General, Patrick Atkinson, noted that the need for reform of the Principal Act is evidenced by the lengthy delays in processing applications for the distribution of estates.

“Inadequate resources and archaic laws have contributed to inefficiencies in the processing of applications for the grant of letters of administration or probate at the Supreme Court and Resident Magistrate Court,” Mr. Atkinson said.

“One result of the inefficiencies is that a significant number of parcels of land and other assets to be inherited, such as money in bank accounts, remain in limbo for very long periods, without being transferred to beneficiaries,” he added.

Mr. Atkinson further stated that with the amendments to the Bill, the Administrator-General will be given expanded authority, which will allow for the settlement of over 3,000 estates and, by so doing, improve the efficiency of the department.

Opposition Member of Parliament for St. Andrew North Eastern, Delroy Chuck, welcomed the legislation, noting that the amendments to the Bill are a “very important step to unleashing a number of very important estates so that benefits can be obtained and also capital can be unleashed for development of our society.”

He appealed to the Administrator-General’s Department to use the legislation, when enacted, to “resolve the thousands of cases you currently have.”

“If you need further assistance from this legislature, let us know so that your burden can be eased. This is what you have asked for…. now you have now gotten it, let us release the assets of these estates and let us ensure that the beneficiaries get whatever they are entitled to,” Mr. Chuck said.

Debate on the Bill is set to continue at the next sitting of the Lower House.

The Bill was passed, with two amendments, in the Senate on Friday, April 10.