National Assembly passes Deceased Persons Estates’ Amendment Bill

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall

The National Assembly on Thursday passed the Deceased Persons Estates’ Administration (Amendment) Bill 2020, which updates archaic provisions concerning estate values.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall SC, presented the Bill for a second reading before it was passed during the 18th Sitting of the National Assembly.

Under the current Act, letters of administration are not required for small estates in certain circumstances where the value of the estate does not exceed $1,000. Additionally, proceeds of small intestate estates can be accessed from banks, in the absence of a grant of letters of administration, where the value of the estate of the deceased does not exceed $250,000.

During his presentation, Minister Nandlall explained that the new amendments increase the value of estates for which the Registrar may summarily appoint an administrator, from $1,000 to $750,000. It also provides that in the absence of letters of administration, a bank manager may pay to a claimant, from a deceased person’s savings bank account, a sum not exceeding $750,000.

“So, Mr. Speaker, in relation to estates that are $750,000 in value, the bill that we are proposing along with the amendments, dispenses with the need for a probate to be granted in the event of a deceased person leaving a will, or for letters of administration once there is no will. Once the net value of the estate is $750,000, then you do not require letters of administration or probate,” he said.

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, in her contribution, said the amendment reduces the hassle to which beneficiaries of small estates are subjected.

“Because that involves not only the expense of a lawyer, it’s usually five per cent of a large estate and if its not a large estate, it starts at $15o,000 to $300,000 depending on the lawyer. And, its not just the lawyer fees, there is an estate duty, there are valuations that have to be had, bank statements that have to be had and all of that cost money. That is not only burdensome financially, but the running around to get to the process is also extremely burdensome for a grieving family,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Public Service, Sonia Parag said the common thread in all of the bills presented by the PPP/C Administration is that it puts the interest of the people at the forefront. While the amendments to the Deceased Persons Estates’ Administration Act may seem minimal, she said, they would have a huge impact on a large section of the society.