The amendment to Jersey’s Wills and Succession law is a missed opportunity to bring the law right up to date, says Advocate Clare Nicolle, who leads Collas Crill’s Wills and Estates team.
On 1 January 2014 an amendment to Jersey’s Wills and Succession Law came into force equalising the rights of men and women on the death of their spouse in circumstances where that spouse has died leaving freehold (immoveable) property in a will to someone other than their widow or widower. Both men and women will now be entitled to a life enjoyment of one third of their deceased spouse’s freehold property.
Advocate Nicolle said: “While it is admirable that the States have sought to equalise a discriminatory part of Jersey’s inheritance law, one has to question why they have retained the historic right to one third of the deceased spouse’s freehold property.
“After all, what constitutes one third of a semi-detached home?”
Advocate Nicolle added that it was “a great shame that when considering this part of Jersey’s inheritance law, the States did not see fit to review the whole of our law on succession, which has not kept up with the times.”
She said that a report had been prepared by the then Legislation Committee back in 2001, which had made a number of proposals which have still not been acted upon.
“This is something that affects every single one of us in the Island, and passing up the opportunity to bring the Law completely up to date has been a missed opportunity,” she said.