When someone with property in the Bahamas passes away the estate’s assets must be distributed.  The process of Bahamian estate administration depends on the existence of a Bahamian will. Assuming there’s no joint tenancy or trust, the estate must go through probate, the judicial process of administering a decedent’s estate. We’ve broken down different scenarios, depending on wills and domiciles, and the various paths forward to properly dispose of a Bahamian estate.

If there is a will

With an original Bahamian will and death certificate, a Grant of Probate (also known as a Letter of Administration with Will Annexed) can be secured through the Bahamian courts. This assumes that the deceased individual signed a valid will appointing an executor surviving them, and that the executor makes an application in his or her capacity as an executor of said will.

In order to obtain the Grant of Probate, the executor is required to make an application submitting the original will to the Probate Registry of the Supreme Court. If the application is approved, this Grant of Probate essentially validates the will and vests the authority in the executor to distribute the assets.

If there’s no will

If the decedent died without a Bahamian will, a Grant of Letters of Administration must be secured from the Bahamian Courts. The application process depends on the domicile of the deceased person and whether the domicile is considered a civil law country or a common law country, which includes the United States.  Typically, submission of two copies of the Grant certified by the court in the domicile of the deceased person along with two certified copies of the death certificate is required.

There’s no will and the estate is outside of the Bahamas

If the decedent passed without a Bahamian will and the estate is mainly administered outside of the Bahamas, an application for a Grant can be made. The Grant provides the decedent’s representatives the equivalent of a Grant of Probate or Letter of Administration in the jurisdiction where they were appointed. Without a Grant of Letters of Administration or a Resealed Grant being issued by the Bahamian courts, the executor, legal heirs or personal representatives appointed in another jurisdiction cannot take possession of or administer any part of the Bahamian estate.  It is therefore imperative to secure either of these Grants, depending on the circumstance.

Navigating estate administration in the Bahamian courts with or without a will can be complex and confusing. Outsourcing the administration ensures the disposal of the estate is handled swiftly and efficiently. To learn more about Intertrust’s Bahamian estate administration services or to talk to an expert, get in touch.

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.