Guernsey: Making A Will In Guernsey


On 2 April 2012 The Inheritance (Guernsey) Law 2011 came into force which has replaced Guernsey's forced heirship regime with a system of full testamentary freedom (accompanied by family and dependent provisions).

Any individual who currently has a will executed before 2 April 2012 should be aware that any forced heirship provisions will be preserved unless they execute a new will or codicil incorporating the new provisions or unless their will stipulated that the new provisions should apply.

It is now, more than ever, important for those who do not have wills to record their wishes to ensure that assets are left to the correct beneficiaries.

This booklet highlights the key issues that any individual domiciled in Guernsey and/ or owning Guernsey real estate should consider when drawing up a will. It also highlights foreign wills for non-resident/ non-domiciled individuals holding assets in Guernsey.


A person's will expresses how they would like their estate to be dealt with after their death. To ensure the will is legally valid, it needs to be carefully drafted which is why gaining appropriate advice is particularly important.


There are several important reasons why it is advisable to make a will. On a practical level, a will provides certainty for family and friends at a time of emotional distress, telling them how their loved one wishes their estate dealt with. Legally, it ensures that an individual's property is passed on to persons or institutions of their choice, within the limits imposed by Guernsey law.

In the absence of a will Guernsey law steps in and dictates how a deceased person's property will pass. This may not accord with your wishes.

For many years Guernsey law made no requirement to make a will of real estate in certain family circumstances. However, since 2008, in the absence of a will of real estate, certain Royal Court applications may be required which can delay the administration of your estate and add additional costs. Therefore, it is important to ensure your will remains up to date.

You should ensure you have a Guernsey will if you are Guernsey domiciled or you own realty in Guernsey.


The law stipulates certain requirements in relation to making a will and if these are not complied with it may mean that the will is ineffective and invalid. There are a number of formalities associated with making a will. For example, a will of personal estate and real estate must be signed or acknowledged by the testator (the person making the will) in the presence of two witnesses who are both present at the same time. These witnesses must be over 18 years of age and not be beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries under the will.


Not only can a will refer to the disposal of a person's estate, it can also include additional information. For example, it can express a person's wishes as to whom they would like to administer their estate or care for minor children. It might also include wishes relating to trust provisions and deferment clauses, specific legacies and burial/cremation wishes.


This of course depends on how complicated the will is, however, we would be very pleased to provide a fee estimate for you at the outset.


To make a will a person must have what is known as testamentary capacity. In general terms this means that the person making the will, must be of full age (18 years old) and sound mind. It is usual to have the testator's capacity confirmed by a medical opinion when dealing with elderly or infirm testators.


A will can be amended as often as a person might chose, within the appropriate legal framework, provided they retain the necessary testamentary capacity. It is possible to change the terms of a will at any time or even revoke the whole thing. It is always advisable for a will to be reviewed if personal circumstances have changed, particularly in light of the new inheritance laws.


In this case, a person is said to have died intestate. At this point the law sets out clear rules as to who will inherit upon the death of a Guernsey domiciled or realty owning individual.

For a more detailed table outlining the intestacy rules please see below.


In Guernsey there is a distinction between real estate and personal property. In general terms the former refers to land and buildings situate in Guernsey (realty) and the latter (personalty) to money, shares, possessions etc. It used to be the case in Guernsey that a person had to have two wills: one which dealt with realty and a second which dealt with personalty.

Since 2008, an individual can have one will but many testators (the person that is making the will) still prefer to have two as a will dealing with realty is registered at the Greffe after one's death. Having two wills assists in keeping the contents of a will of personalty more confidential.


An individual has full testamentary freedom as to whom they may leave realty. However, the law provides that certain family members or dependants who have not received "reasonable financial provision" under the terms of the deceased's will may apply to the court for provision to be made for them. The court has power to make various orders as it thinks fit. Legal advice should be sought as to the relevant merits of any claim.


'Descendants' will include children and remoter descendants, legitimate or otherwise. The law allows you to also include step children in your will. For more details on this please contact a member of our legal team.


Divorce or a Judicial Separation, which renounces rights to succeed, will mean your surviving spouse has no rights on intestacy. However, in Guernsey, divorce and/ or re-marriage does not automatically revoke a will. It follows that if a spouse is named in a will of Real Estate or Personal Estate, they will still inherit unless such wills are revoked.


Immediately upon your death, Guernsey law provides for your realty to vest in either your heirs at law or your named beneficiary. Registration of your will of realty evidences the fact of your heirs inheriting the property. After registration of the will dealing with realty it will become a public document. This should be borne in mind when deciding whether to have one will dealing with both personal and real estate or to keep them separate.


As with realty an individual has full testamentary freedom as to whom they leave their personalty, subject to provisions for family and dependants.


An executor is appointed to carry out the personal wishes of the testator as expressed in the will of personalty. Every will of personalty should appoint an executor whose duties will be defined in that will. An executor obtains probate of the will. Generally, anyone can be an executor provided that person is of age and sound mind. It is advisable to check with your intended executor that they are happy to carry out the role. Your lawyer will generally be prepared to act as your executor. An executor is not required for a will of realty.

Carey Olsen Client Services (Guernsey) Limited is our in-house executorship company which provides independent estate administration services and can be named as your executor in your will.


Probate is an order of the Ecclesiastical Court which confirms the authority of the executor to administer the personal estate of the deceased. The executor swears an oath that they will administer the estate in accordance with law and render an account when called upon to do so. Some institutions may not release funds/ assets without a grant of probate so it is important to ascertain where one is required.


There are many individuals who may be neither resident nor domiciled in Guernsey but who hold assets, more usually, personal assets in Guernsey such as monies invested. The personal estate of an individual is governed by the law of his/ her last domicile which will not normally be Guernsey if they are only holding assets in Guernsey. Upon the death of the individual the probate procedure can be much easier for the executor if the individual had a Guernsey will which can be proved for probate purposes. Obtaining probate in Guernsey is far simpler than in many other jurisdictions.

For the preparation of foreign wills we would be pleased to forward a questionnaire for your completion and return so that we may advise you on your individual circumstances.


The following table sets out the basic rules for if you die intestate in Guernsey (without a will in place). For more detailed explanation please contact one of our team.



No spouse / civil partner

No children

Heirs at law

Heirs at law

Spouse / civil partner but no descendants

Whole to spouse / civil partner

Whole to spouse / civil partner

Descendants but no spouse / civil partner

Whole to descendants

Whole to descendants

Spouse / civil partner & descendents

Spouse / civil partner will receive:

1. an undivided 1/2 share of the matrimonial home;

2. an undivided 1/2 share of any other realty; and

3. life enjoyment until death or remarriage of the remaining 1/2 share of the matrimonial home.

The descendants will receive the rest.

1/2 to spouse / civil partner

1/2 to descendants

The rules regarding who inherits (heirs at law) if a person dies without a spouse, civil partner or descendants are more complex and can be explained upon request.

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.

In association with
Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Related Video
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.


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.