April 19, 2023

A Charitable Bequest by Will?

Having recently dealt with a 17-and-a-half-foot long family tree, identifying 73 potential heirs to an  intestate estate, I am once again reminded of the importance of making a will, choosing who you wish  to inherit your assets on your death.  

Often people fail to make a will because they cannot decide upon who to benefit. As many charities  face significant financial challenges due to shortfalls in funding caused by COVID-19, perhaps it is time  to consider a charitable bequest, rather than risk the possibility of Jersey law on intestacy determining that relatives who may not have known of your existence, inherit your estate.  

Benefiting a local charity is often preferred, so that the bequest is utilised for the good of our Island.  The Charities (Jersey) Law 2014, much of which came into force on 6th March 2018 and the remainder  on 1st January 2019, introduced the Jersey Charity Commissioner, whose role it is to administer and  supervise the operation of the Law.

The Commissioner is required to perform his or her function in a  way that, in so far as is reasonably practicable, protects public interest and confidence in charities  registered under the Law. To register under the Law a charity must satisfy several requirements including, producing statements relating to the public benefit and charitable purposes of the charity,  the names of the governors of the charity, financial information (including total income and  expenditure, and the value of its assets), details of any payment made to a governor and details of any  reportable matters as set out in the Law in respect of each governor (e.g. conduct issues). Once  registered this information is publicly available. This goes some way towards alleviating public  concerns of mis-management of charitable funds. When considering charitable bequest, you may  therefore wish to make enquires as to whether your chosen charity is registered with the Jersey  Charity Commissioner. A list of registered charities, including the information set out above, is  available on the Jersey Charity Commissioner website.  

To receive a gift of Jersey immovable property (e.g. freehold or flying freehold property) a charity must  be an incorporated entity. Many smaller charities in Jersey are unincorporated and in those cases the  members of the charity take personal responsibility for entering into contracts on behalf of the charity  and for the debts of the charity. Charitable Trusts and Foundations are also unincorporated entities  and may not own Jersey immovable property. An incorporated entity has a legal existence separate  from and independent of its members. An incorporated charitable entity will typically either be an  incorporated association registered under the Lois (1962 et 1963) sur les teneures en fidécommis et  l’incorporation d’association or a limited company. Should you wish to benefit a charity in your will  of immovable estate, it is imperative therefore that the charity is incorporated, otherwise the gift will  fail and your immovable property will be inherited by your heirs-at-law, in the absence of any fall-back  provision in your will.  

Where a person dies without making a will relating to movable property (cash, investment, jewellery,  household contents etc), their surviving spouse or civil partner inherits the household effects, £30,000  and half of the remainder of the estate. The issue of the deceased (children and failing that  grandchildren etc) inherit the remainder. Where there is no spouse or civil partner, the issue inherit  equally. Where there is no spouse, civil partner or issue, the inheritance is referred to as a collateral  succession. The estate is inherited by the closest blood relatives identified in accordance with what is  referred to as the civil (or Roman Law) method. 

Where a person dies without making a will relating to immovable property, their spouse or civil  partner inherits the life enjoyment of the matrimonial home (presuming that it was not owned jointly for the survivor of the couple) and an equal share in the remainder, with each of the issue. Where 

there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, the issue inherit in equal shares. Where there is no  surviving spouse, civil partner or issue (a collateral succession), who inherits is determined by whether  the immovable property is what is known in Jersey Law as an acquêt or propre. Essentially an acquêt is property that the deceased purchased during their lifetime and a propre is inherited property.  Different succession rules apply depending upon whether a propre is inherited from the maternal or  paternal side of the family.  

It is evident that Jersey law on intestacy is complicated and the application of its rules may result in  unknown and potentially undesired outcomes. It is important to take professional advice on these  matters. Including a charity in your will, either as primary beneficiary or a fall-back beneficiary in the  event that your close family predecease you, may be a desirable option in many cases.

Related Posts

First Steps assisted buying scheme

First Steps assisted buying scheme

The legal guide to divorce in Jersey

The legal guide to divorce in Jersey

The Climate Change for Homebuyers

The Climate Change for Homebuyers

Essential questions to ask a mortgage adviser

Essential questions to ask a mortgage adviser

Contact Us.

Your Name*
Email Address*
Phone number*
Message*
0 of 800

1

6

Hill Street, St Helier, JE1 1BS
+44 (0) 1534 875 875
info@benestsyvret.com