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Cayman Islands Wills: What you need to know

A properly drafted Will can bring you peace of mind, avoiding complicated legal challenges further down the line; and ensuring the safe transfer of wealth to future generations.

Planning for the distribution of your assets in the future may seem daunting. However, the process can be quite straightforward and is recommended for most people. Whether you have only a few assets to dispose of to your immediate family, or your assets are diverse and familial relationships complicated, a properly drafted Will can bring peace of mind and ease; avoiding complex legal challenges and ensuring your assets are secure for future generations. 

Obtaining appropriate legal advice relative to the disposition of real estate, jewelry and other valuables, bank accounts, life insurance policies, investment accounts, shares in companies and other assets after your demise can make all the difference in the administration of your estate.

What are the benefits of a Will?

Probably the most significant benefit to preparing a Will now is financial in nature. For persons with easily identifiable assets and certainty as to how they wish to have them distributed upon their deaths, the costs associated with preparing a Will is insignificant when compared to the cost for family members litigating over disputed assets in the future. Currently, few attorneys charge more than $2,000 to prepare a straightforward Will (where the assets and beneficiaries are identified), while litigation attorneys could incur legal fees in excess of $25,000.00 simply to prepare and commence legal proceedings at court. Wills can usually be amended for a minimal fee whenever there are significant life changes such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children or the death of a named beneficiary in a Will.

Preparing a Will gives you the opportunity to discuss with family, friends and other potential beneficiaries your wishes for the gifting of assets and to obtain input from those people whose views may influence your decisions. Strategies to minimise uncertainty, costs and not unimportantly, hurt feelings, can be set out in a Will.

Appointing the person(s) who will care for your minor or infirm dependents upon your death is also an important benefit of a Will. Establishing who will administer your estate is also possible when you prepare a Will, as Cayman Islands law currently gives the right to administer estates to your spouses and/or children in cases where the deceased died intestate. The ability to include gifts to persons or charitable or other organisations is another benefit of having a Will, as is the ability to disinherit persons who you do not wish to participate in your estate.

How do I create a Will?

To commence the process, your Stuarts attorney will have you complete a questionnaire regarding your assets and the persons to whom you wish them to be gifted. You will also be asked to identify an executor and as least one alternate executor and to identify the beneficiaries of your residual estate after specific gifts have been made. Here charitable organisations may be appointed to receive your residual estate or any failed gifts (in the event that a gift fails, e.g. due to the death of a named beneficiary prior to your own death). 

Once instructions are received, your Stuarts attorney will produce a first draft of your Will for review and any further amendment. Once the Will is finalised, a meeting will be arranged for you to execute your Will. The Will must be executed by you in the presence of two witnesses who are in the presence of each other and who sign as witnesses to the Will. Beneficiaries under the Will may not act as witnesses to the execution of the Will. Once executed your Will should be kept in a safe place where the executor can easily locate it. A water and fire-proof safe is often best. Wills should not be defaced, bent, torn, or pulled apart and re-stapled in order to avoid questions as to their authenticity when they are submitted for the legal probate process at court.

Our Wills and Probate attorneys at Stuarts are available to provide expert guidance and support on the most effective avenues available to protect your interests and ensure the safe transfer of your wealth and assets to future generations.  With proper planning we can ensure that our loved ones have the least possible issues with our estate at the lowest possible cost, after we have passed on.

Our Cayman Islands Wills and probate lawyers can assist with matters such as:

  • Drafting Cayman Islands Wills and advising on related legislation
  • Estate Planning
  • Grants of Letters of Administration
  • Probate, Executorship and Inheritance
  • Mental Capacity, Elderly and Vulnerable Clients

More information on Wills in the Cayman Islands

Read our guidance notes and FAQ’s on Wills and Probate here.

Should you need help with a Will, Real Estate or estate planning, get in touch with our expert Local Legal Services team or email buck.grizzel@stuartslaw.com today.

Contact our experts for further advice

View profile for Buck GrizzelBuck Grizzel
Senior Associate, Head of Local Legal Services

This publication is for general guidance and is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought about specific circumstances.