Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 30th 2014 Contents E BE • www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | 5SBG
one joint tenant dies, his interest dies and expires with him and
the other person or persons remaining now own the property in
full and it continues this way. If there are five persons, as each
person dies out, their interest dissipates and dies out. One person
will remain standing in the end and that is the person who will
inherit the whole property."
Tenants in common who inherit property, however, are able to
pass on their interest in a property to their own children because
this does not die with them.
An attorney can also make special provisions to protect ben-
eficiaries who are underaged. Martinez drew reference to a situation
where property is left to a minor.
"The problem is once the property is in the child s name, the
child can t do anything, because the child can t sign until he is
18. So, he can t get a mortgage, he can t reconvey the property to
anybody else, cannot sign for anything in relation to the property,"
An attorney can make an assessment on whether one should
even leave a will at all.
Martinez explained that after death it can take as much as nine
months to a year to be given a grant of probate for a will.
"People sometimes spend a lot of money maintaining their
deceased before they die. Hospitalisation, and medication are very
expensive. Then, there are funeral expenses. But relatives must
wait this length of time before they have access to the estate."
To avoid situations like these, Martinez said a lawyer may advise
that his client give his estate away to his beneficiaries while he is
These inter-vivos (between the living) gifts, said Martinez, may
be better to give, in some cases, because they are more difficult
"If someone gives away their property while they are alive and
then die five, 10 years, without changing the name of the people
they have given gifts to, this removes doubt that these individuals
were meant to have the property."
Martinez said, in some cases, it may also be cheaper to gift an
estate while alive.
"If you do a will, there are two stages the beneficiaries has to
go through before he inherits."
These two stages are the actual probation of the will and then
a deed of assent, in which property is transferred from the deceased s
name to the beneficiary s. The two separate processes incur two
separate costs as well as two separate waiting periods.
"But, if someone gives their property away inter vivos, the person
gets the interest immediately, or an immediate future interest. For
example, a man can give himself his property for life and then
after his death, to his children. The children would get an immediate
future interest, meaning that they get the interest right now, but
they don t actually benefit from the interest until the future, when
the owner or life tenant dies. That, of course, is only one procedure
and there is one cost. It is done right away. There is no need for
any further fees, no further waiting period and no further waiting
documents. It is just one document, a deed of gift if you wish."
However, Martinez said that giving one s estate away while one
was alive does not necessarily work out to be cheaper than doing
a will. It could be turn out to be more expensive depending on
the value of the property. Inter vivos gifts incur a stamp duty,
which is a percentage of the property s value.
Ingelfield of M Hamel Smith & Co was able to clarify some of
these costs for the Sunday BG. See Deed of Gift Stamp Duties
If one decides to do a will, it is a good idea to appoint an executor.
This is the person who will administer the will and make sure that
your wishes are followed. An executor can renounce their appoint-
ment. However, once they decide to remain, they have a deadline
by which they must make an application for a grant of probate.
"When a person dies, an application for a grant of probate or
administration, should be made within three years. If you don t
make that application within three years, you have to give the
registrar a reason why, said Martinez.
Once the executor has a grant of probate, they have one year
in which to carry out their duties.
"If he fails, whoever is next in line, in terms of the will, one of
the residuary beneficiaries, could apply. Remember the beneficiaries
are being kept back, so one of them has to take it upon themselves
to apply to the High Court, to have the executor passed over."
Quite apart from the legal matters attached to providing for
loved ones after one is gone are the financial organisation of one s
Winston Williams, an agency manager at Pan American Life
and a financial adviser, said there were two perspectives from
which one could view an estate, particularly if one owned a business.
"There are personal assets and there are business assets, which
are separate and distinct according to the law," said Williams.
He drew an example of a man who owns a car parts shop with
three children. During his lifetime, this man educated his children
and so none of them followed him into the business.
"I would now have to determine, how I can pass the business
on to someone, who may not be one of my children."
Or, the situation could be more complicated, Williams said,
where one child decided to follow the father into the business, but
when the father dies, the other two decide that they are entitled
to a share of the business.
Williams said the trouble then becomes getting the equity of
the business out, without liquidating it. He said one of the most
cost effective ways of doing this is purchasing insurance.
"You take out the life insurance policy and you can name the
children as beneficiaries and they will get whatever you believe
you want to give to each of them, the actual cash dollars right
away. The surviving child that you want to give the business gets
the whole business. The other two children have no claim to the
business, but they would have received their fair share. The business
survives because he does not have to dispose of assets to be able
to fund that distribution.
A trust is another form in which an estate could be distributed,
said Williams. Trusts are instruments which put the estate of the
deceased under management of an outside party or entity (a trustee)
for the benefit of a beneficiary.
Deed of gift:
Courtesy of Donna Marie Johnson of JD Sellier
Deed of Gift Stamp Duties
• $1.00 to $850,000:
Stamp Duty exempt
• >$850,000 < $1,250,000:
For every dollar of the first $400,000 in excess of
$850,000 Stamp Duty will be 3.0 per cent
• >$1,250,000 < $1,750,000:
For every dollar of the next $500,000 in excess of
$1,250,000 Stamp Duty will be 5.0 per cent
For every dollar thereafter Stamp Duty will be 7.5 per
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