Cayman Islands: Cayman Wills And Estates Practice - Q & A With Anthony Partridge

Last Updated: 4 October 2017
Article by Anthony Partridge

What does the Cayman estates practice involve?

Most law firms in Cayman advertise expertise in probate and letters of administration matters, but in actual fact, this is such a niche area of the law that very few attorneys have significant experience in this space.  Advice on estate matters in Cayman tends to be handled by generalists within Private Client and Trusts teams. I am fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to develop a significant estates practice since qualifying as a Cayman Islands attorney more than a decade ago. Besides the very specific requirements of Cayman Islands law in respect of estate matters, there are further complicating factors – the international nature of the clients that we deal with (and the issues that can cause in terms of interaction with other jurisdictions and questions of domicile) and the very significant value of the estates that we deal with here in the jurisdiction. Some of the world's wealthiest people have assets in Cayman, and that can lead to disputes – for that reason, although I am not a disputes lawyer or a contentious trusts and estates specialist, I have worked on many occasions with my litigation counterparts on matters relating to disputes over Cayman estates in the most fascinating and interesting of circumstances.

How does the process work?

The Succession Law of the Cayman Islands (2006 Revision) provides in very clear terms that no person shall take any steps to administer the estate of a deceased individual without first having obtained some form of grant from the Grand Court, which is effectively a court order. That requirement necessitates somebody commencing proceedings in the Cayman Islands Courts in order to obtain the authority to deal with a deceased person's Cayman Islands assets and therefore, it is essential to take legal advice from a Cayman Islands attorney. In order for a Cayman attorney to act, such attorney needs to understand the particular circumstances involved. Where is the deceased from? Where were they domiciled? Did they die with a will or not? Who is the person entitled to apply for the grant to the Cayman Islands Court? Is it possible to reseal an existing grant from a foreign jurisdiction? These are all relevant questions which will need to be bottomed out at the commencement of the instructions. The court process can be complicated and knowing the filing requirements and procedures is crucial – as is dealing with any requisitions from the Civil Registry in a proper and timely manner. It is also important to ensure that clients understand the timeframe in which the process operates – it is not a rubber stamping exercise, the Court takes its roles in these matters seriously and demands full adherence to the rules. In England, for example, and in Scotland, you can get a grant sometimes in three to four weeks. But here it is three to four months, in addition to which, holiday periods can also naturally slow things down.

Why is there an international element to Cayman estates practice?

Simply, because the client base of the Cayman Islands' financial services industry is an international one. Our clients are from all over the world – for example we are currently dealing with estate matters from South America, the Middle East and Asia. There really isn't a specific area that we see this type of work coming from.  Matters can be particularly complex when dealing with foreign estates from civil law countries because you need to understand who is entitled to apply to the court for a grant in the country where the deceased was domiciled at the time of their death, and what the legal process for such application is in the country of domicile.  In those circumstances, a lawyer qualified to advise on such matters will be required to provide affidavit evidence in the Cayman proceedings before the Grand Court. In these cases it is likely that you will be dealing with documentation – sometimes a great deal of documentation – that is not in English, and which will need to be translated. It may be necessary to demonstrate the translator' competence to the Court's satisfaction. Evidence is also another complication, because what constitutes a death certificate may not be the same in a foreign country, either in form or in the relevant civil authority empowered to issue such a certificate – and all of this will have to be established to the satisfaction of the Court.

Are disputes over wills and probate/letters of administration procedures common?

Disputes can occur, and can be difficult for the same reasons as described above in terms of the international element of the Cayman Estates practice. I assist regularly, for example, when dealing with a contentious estate matter. So my practice does cross-over to the contentious estate side, where the assistance of the Court may be necessary. For example in the construction of a specific clause of a will. So there is certainly a crossover with the dispute resolution side of our practice.

What can clients do to reduce the likelihood of complications in this area?

One of the steps that we see clients take quite frequently to reduce these complications, and on which we regularly advise, is the establishment of a trust. This can simplify the estate planning process significantly, because it removes assets from a person's individual estate and quite frankly, may avoid probate altogether.  More and more, we are seeing clients setting up trusts during their lifetime to avoid complications, costs and delays during the probate process. In the hypothetical example of a wealthy individual who has established a Cayman company during their lifetime – you could set up any one of a Cayman, Jersey, Guernsey or BVI trust on their behalf, removing the shares out of the person's personal estate thereby placing them in trust.  Such action would remove the need for a Cayman probate application on death, providing there were no other Cayman assets in the individual estate upon passing.

What are the most difficult matters that you have been involved in?

Fundamentally, probate and letters of administration applications – and in particular, the  international aspects of such applications – are complex areas of law. It is certainly true to say that an international dimension can add a significant layer of complexity. The areas that spring to mind are matters that I have dealt with in relation to estates involving Japanese, Brazilian and Chinese law. The Japanese case was complicated not just by the international element, but also because it was a disputed situation, but thankfully we had access to Japanese language capabilities in the firm, which assisted greatly. That is one of the reasons why an international law firm such as Ogier – which has a footprint in Europe and Asia – is regularly called upon in these matters. The Chinese estate was very unusual because there was difficulty in obtaining evidence of death to the satisfaction of the Cayman Islands Court – although ultimately the matter was satisfactorily dealt with. In the Brazilian matter, there were issues due to the fact that both notarial and court processes are available under Brazilian law, and it turned out that our clients had obtained their local grant under a notarial process which was not recognised in the Cayman Islands.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.