Will or no will – How to Probate in Jamaica

[This specific article was taken from eHOW website. However, all responses to queries submitted have been researched within the jurisdiction of Jamaica by the Legal Wiz team before being made public on this site. We remain grateful for the several attornies-at-law who participated.]


Probate can be initiated when 1) a person dies and doesn’t leave a will; 2) there are surviving family members that are possible beneficiaries; 3) a person dies but doesn’t have any beneficiaries to inherit his property; or 4) the appointed executors are deceased.

To represent the estate of the deceased as an executor, you must first obtain a granting of Letters of Administration from Resident Magistrate’s Court. Disputes regarding the decedent’s will are handled in the Supreme Court of Judicature of Jamaica.


Source: eHow to probate in Jamaica

Check the Island Record Office (which is part of the Registrar General’s Department) to make sure there is no prior will filed. To proceed with Probate, the decedent must have died without a will.
Obtain a death certificate directly from the Registrar General’s Department. A notarized copy or a copy signed by the Justice of the Peace is not acceptable for probate matters. The certified death certificate is then filed with the Administrator General’s department.
Gather marriage certificates, birth certificates and death certificates of all the persons who want to be named beneficiaries of the decedent. These original documents can be obtained through the Registrar General’s department.
Prove your relationship to the deceased if you are a common-law widow/widower. You must present a Declaration from the Family Court of the Supreme Court. If widowed, you must not have been legally married to someone else at the time of the common-law marriage and must have lived as husband and wife, as well as cohabitated, a minimum of five years prior to the common-law spouse’s death.
Verify your paternity with a Declaration from the Family Court of the Supreme Court if you were born out of wedlock without a father’s name on your birth certificate. Elder witnesses can verify that the paternity was known and established while the decedent was still alive.
Search for a probate lawyer after being named Executor of the decedent’s estate. The executor represents the estate of the decedent and has a list of the decedent’s beneficiaries. The lawyer will present the entire matter to the Administrator General’s office, who will decide the matters regarding the estate, including property distribution.


  • If the decedent is your grandparent, you should obtain your parents’ death certificates and your birth certificate before proceeding to probate.Make copies of the original documents for your legal file at your lawyer’s office. Keep the original documents with your other important papers.
  • Keep in contact with the executor so that you will always know the status of the probate procedures.
  • Only those persons that have a right to claim a valid legal relationship to the decedent can lawfully become involved in the probate process.
  • Wait until the probate has been decided before taking property from the decedent’s estate. You may be ordered to return the property to the guardianship of the executor to be distributed to another beneficiary.
  • If you are a beneficiary, you will have to allow the executor to present the matter for probate.

Before probate in Jamaica, what can be done

Author Profile

... a team of professional experts, mostly Jamaicans, from varied fields including as priority paralegal, investigation, research, real estate, construction, arts (literary, visual, performing, culinary) and entertainment, certified Attorneys (civil and criminal law). Information is researched, then published, on this site, in the interest of the wider public.
Link me here
Click here for more about us

Related posts

54 Thoughts to “Will or no will – How to Probate in Jamaica”

  1. Janelle Titus

    My mother died in Miami, Fl in 2008. We are probating her Estate here, there is an appointed Administrator in the State of Florida. Do we have to go through the same process for an Estate is Jamaica? If so, can we follow the steps above, or how do we probate from America?

  2. Legal Wiz

    @ JANELLE, May 12, 2012:

    Dear Janelle,
    Thanks for writing in. The probating of a will or letters of Administration, whichever applies to you, can be applied for from Florida. You however should get assistance from an attorney as the stages relating to Estate in Jamaica are to be taken through the Supreme Court. All the best.

  3. Kurt

    Hi Legal Wiz,
    A family member has dies and left a will (we believe); how can family members who believe they may be beneficiaries get access to a will if the executor does not provide it? Just wondering if there is a legal process to compel a will to be disclosed to family members.


  4. @ KURT October 31 2012:
    Good day Kurt,
    Thanks for writing in. Your circumstances have to be weighed to determine the legal process applicable. Usually when the will is to be probated, or, if the need arises for family member applies for Letters of Administration with will annexed, the will has to be presented. Once a Will is done and valid, it must be presented.
    All the best!
    Legal Wiz

  5. Mark

    How long does it take (typically) to probate a will in Jamaica?

  6. Legal Wiz

    @ MARK January 1, 2013:

    Dear Mark,
    Thanks for your question. Typically, it usually takes six months to probate a will, but circumstances can dictate a longer period.
    All the best!



  8. @ MARCHEL PHILLIPS January 29 13 at 11:44 pm:

    Dear Marchel Phillips,
    Good referrals are available upon request and by procedures. The first step is to send an emailed request and then fill in an order form. Please write further to legalwizwork@yahoo.com. Keep connected for more updates and responses to queries by the public!

  9. Beverley Allen

    My son’s father died in 2009 leaving a will. My son was never notified of his father’s death. Through research he found his father’s obituary in The Jamaica Gleaner in 2011 which states all persons with claims should submit the claim within 6 weeks of the notice. Please advise how to proceed. Thanks in advance.

  10. @ BEVERLEY ALLEN, October 25 14:

    Hi, Beverley Allen, thanks for writing in.
    More details are needed to assist. For example, where did the ad say the claim should be made.

  11. Angela

    * My dad has died in England and left no will

    * all his assets are in Jamaica

    * how do l make a claim to the property

  12. @ ANGELA, November 25, 2014:

    Good day Angela,
    You will need to apply to be the Administratrix over his estates.

  13. Claudette

    My Grandmother dies 18 years ago and my elderly parents are STILL dealing with probate. She left a will naming my mother as executor. Is it feasible that this should take so long?

  14. Legal Wiz

    @ CLAUDETTE, February 19, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    Dear Claudette,
    You need to check the status at the court.

  15. Carol

    My father did a will in 2009 that named me and my siblings as beneficiaries to his property in Jamaica. He remarried 2010 and divorced in 2011. I live in Ontario Canada and according to the law here, if a will was made prior to marriage that will becomes null and void. That being said, is the will null and void in Jamaica?

  16. @ CAROL June 21, 2016:

    Dear Carol,
    A response to this was posted on the site. Nonetheless, marriage does nullify wills in Jamaica. Please consider relying on an attorney-at-law to assist with your issues.

  17. Jessica N Scarlett


    I am the only child for my late mother who has never been married. She passed in 2008 in hospital Puerto Rico. Her autopsy and death certificate were emailed to me. Her body was flown back to Jamaica where I buried her, but without the original death certificate. She has property etc, but she never made a will. How do I proceed with the handling of her estate?

  18. @ JESSICA N SCARLETT, December 28, 2016:

    Good morning Jessica N Scarlett,
    Thank you for visiting and posting.
    Your comment is being queued for a response. An email response will be sent to you, and a response will be posted on this website for the benefit of the public.

  19. AngelaM

    My father is the sole benefactor of my grandfather’s estate in Jamaica according to the will he left when he died in 2003. My father did not probate the property and now there are family members living there, who refuse to move out and want to stake a claim on the property.

    My father did not seek legal action. How does he need to proceed? He has the will and my grandfather’s death certificate.

  20. @ ANGELA-M, February 22 2017:

    Dear Angela M. Please standby for a posted response.

  21. @ ANGELA-M, February 22 2017:

    Dear AngelaM,
    Application for probate should be started. The attorney who asists you can take necessary steps to get the family members off, if you indicate your interest in having them assist you with that as well. Write again!

  22. Heather

    My father died without a will. if his wife remarries does she retain 50% of his estate

  23. @ HEATHER, June 16, 2017:

    See website for response soon. Thanks for visiting.

  24. @ HEATHER, June 16, 2017:

    Dear Heather
    Checks made with an attorney revealed that unless she is mentioned in the Will, her rights are forfeited.
    Thanks for writing in. Keep glued to http://www.antheamcgibbon.com

  25. Joe


    In 2010 my Jamaican grandfather passed away, He did not leave a will

    He has 4 children in England and 1 in Jamaica

    The law claims that his partner who he was not married to but lived with for the last 10 years of his wife is entitled to 50% of the house he owns. The other 50% belongs to the children.

    His partner refuses to leave and sell the property which is the wish of the children.
    The children including my mother is very upset by this and not sure what to do.

    The lawyers in Jamaica do not seem to be helping with the situation

    Please help

  26. @ JOE, August 1, 2018:
    Without a clear query we cannot respond to you. Do you need assistance to reach out to the attorney for an update, or reference to another attorney, or research at the court to determine what has been started on your behalf.

  27. Anneka

    My grandfather died a few years ago leaving an estate in Jamaica, their has been a few family issues and we have been told that he did not have a will. How would I find out if he did have one? Is it too late to start a probate process.

  28. @ ANNEKA, August 21, 2018:

    Dear Anneka,
    Its not too late. First research is necessary. If there is no will application for letters of administration is the necessary step. However grandchildren must meet certain criteria before they are eligible to apply for property belonging to grandparents.

  29. Richard Wright

    My deceased wife owned a house in Jamaica. She also has two adult children from a prior marriage. She died without a will in the Atlanta, Ga. U.S area. There was an unresolved divorce case, but this was neve completed. Who can claim ownership of the house in Westmoreland.

  30. Legal Wiz

    @ RICHARD WRIGHT September 24, 2018

    The spouse and children have rights. Either has priority to claim for administration. If either fail, then other relatives can claim, but in order of priority.

  31. Chris Davis

    My father died without a will. We are in the process of probating the will. Under the Will Act of Jamaica, is it admissible to register two executors on the will instead of an Executor and and Co-Executor to ensure no misuse of power and underhandedness between the deceased’s siblings (2).

  32. @ CHRIS DAVIS, October 12, 2018:

    Dear Mr Davis,
    We appreciate your writing in, but your request is vague. What do you need us to research? What are you querying? Keep connected!

  33. @ Alan Pipes, October 19, 2018:
    Dear Alan, Please stay connected while this response gets updated.

  34. Judith A Briggs


    My mother-in-law died last week. She was married to a British Jamaican man, and they jointly own a property in Jamaica. Her husband is still alive as are her 3 adult children, being: 1) my Husband,2) his sister (both from a previous marriage and 3) their half sister from the current marriage.
    She has not left a will, as he was suffering from Dementia for the last 10 years of her life.
    I believe that her husband should inherit half of her half of the house, and the 3 “children” should share the other half. Is this correct, and how does one apply for probate in Jamaica to sort it out?

  35. @ Judith A Briggs, 2019/01/04
    Thanks for writing in. A reply will follow soon.

  36. @JUDITH A BRIGGS, January 4 19 at 12:01 pm
    Thanks for writing in. For parties owning property jointly, the property automatically goes to the surviving owner when one of the owners die.
    Letters of Administration can only be applied for when the last surviving owner dies, provided that owner did not leave a Will.
    So make sure the ownership was joint and not tenants in common. If it is tenants in common, Administration can be applied for by the husband or children of the deceased owner.
    Where someone is prescribed by a doctor as without capacity, other steps can be taken before that persons property can be applied for through the courts. An attorney-at-law specialising in Probate and Land Law can assist further and should be consulted or contracted as soon as is possible.
    Legal Wiz says thanks for staying connected.

  37. R. Brown

    When vacant land located in Jamaica is left to children in the US, after the probate is completed here in the US, what is the process to be followed in Jamaica?

  38. @ R Brown (January 27, 2019 at 2:53 pm): The probate needs to be resealed in Jamaica. An attorney at law here can assist.
    Thanks for writing in.

  39. ShavellT

    Is a probate needed if someone died leaving a will with named beneficiaries?

  40. Legal Wiz

    @ ShavellT 2019/02/04 at 7:08 pm

  41. Nathalie W

    Following up to your response to Anneka’s post on 21 Aug 2018, what criteria need to be met by grandchildren if the children of the deceased are still living?

    Here is my scenario:
    My maternal grandfather died about a year after I was born (about 1979) almost 40 years ago. One of my aunts said there was no will left behind on the property. My mother is the oldest of my paternal grandfather’s 5 surviving children (and my oldest aunt, older than my mom is a stepdaughter of my maternal grandfather, half-sister to my mom and other 4 aunts). I am the oldest child of my mother. My mother has been paying taxes on the land until maybe a few years ago. My aunt claimed she too was paying taxes but my mom said otherwise.

    Of the 5 daughters and 1 stepdaughter of my grandfather, 3 lives in America (including myself, but I am moving to Jamaica permanently starting this Summer 2019) and 2 daughters and 1 stepdaughter lives in Jamaica.

    No one cares about living in the country (St Elizabeth), and all family members have moved away (with the exception of the two youngest [twins who are 10 years older than I am] that lived there about another 8-9 years after the passing of their father and moved away from their mom [my grandmother] to Kingston). The multiple acres of land have been in disrepair for decades. My mom and one of her sisters had put money together to build a small house for my grandmother before she passed away in October 2010. They have some stranger living in it currently to make sure it doesn’t fall into disrepair like the rest of the land within the recent two years.

    So my original question stands, how does a grandchild goes about becoming executor of the land? Also, I would like some resources to figure out how to survey how much hectares/acreage land is owned, see about paying whatever back-taxes might be owed, and sort out the documentation that is needed (I see up top it said death certificates and birth certificates).

    Also since it appears that my aunts don’t give a crap about the land, not claiming ownership in almost 40 years and NOT paying taxes, how can I cut their claim off to the land?

    Lot’s of questions….but I am trying to at least figure out the preliminary facts before getting in country June 2019 so I can start developing the land before the end of 2019 if possible. Thanks!

  42. @ NATHALIE W, February 11, 2019 at 1:37 am on ‘Will or No Will…’:

    A probate cannot be done without a Will. A grandchild who is not a beneficiary, cannot apply for probate, and if a beneficiary can only do so under certain circumstances.
    Note however that children would have priority to apply for administration when there is no Will, but only when certain criteria are met.
    There are other avenues to getting the title, so an attorney at law needs to be visited to go through further options as it pertains to your scenario. Thanks for writing in.
    Write again soon.

  43. MR HENRY

    Good day Legalwiz,

    Today I have a question that many people face on a day to day basis and I’m sure many don’t know how to deal with it or what options would apply if any. My father was left land by his grandmother who made a will but this was in 1994. However his cousin went and buried her and claimed her estate even though she was not mentioned in the will. My father was about to probate it but he died. We now have been granted his estate and wanted to get what was given to him by his grandmother by will. Is it too late ? Houses are now built on it , I hear they are being rented and taxes were paid but my dad is the one on the will. What would come of this normally?


    Mr Henry

  44. @ MR HENRY, 2019/02/25 at 5:37 am on ‘Will or No Will…’: Based on research, some Jamaican attornies-at-law argue that this depends on the time period that the property had been developed. Otherwise some attornies-at-law argued that there can be legal action taken based on the name the property is registered to. So its best to do some research to establish a timeline of events before approaching an attorney who understands real estate and administration well. Also see relating articles on this site.

  45. Bob

    I love your probate tips! I know nothing about the law. I’ll have to consider your tips so that I can get a good lawyer.

  46. @ BOB, 2019/03/29 at 3:21 pm on ‘Will or no Will…’: Thank you so much for your response. It’s appreciated!

  47. Marcia Samuels

    My father died without leaving a will. He was still living with his common law partner. Do My brothers and sister have claim to any assets.
    I was taking care of him financially until his death

  48. @ MARCIA SAMUELS on How to Probate in Jamaica 2019/05/19:
    When someone dies without a Will, their children and living spouse is entitled to share their belongings. An attorney-at-law can provide further details in a consultation session.
    Thanks for writing, all the best.

  49. John

    My great grand father owned land in Jamaica and has been deceased for years but left no will. Some grandchildren are still living on one of the lands. My grandfather has been paying the taxes on the lands since and is the only living child. How would he proceed to take ownership?

  50. @JOHN on How to probate Will 30/12/19:
    Adverse possession seems easiest, but please get your case thoroughly reviewed as there may be other ways which proves best!

Comments are closed.