Dear Mrs Macaulay,
My father is 86 years old. We both live in the United Kingdom (UK). He has land in Jamaica for which I pay the taxes and upkeep. He wants to leave it in this will to me, but we have been told that we cannot do this from the UK.
I see from a previous article that you wrote where you suggested joint tenancy. Can you let me know if this is possible to do from abroad and what the process is? Or can you suggest a simple and less costly way of securing the land.
Your enquiry has a clear and straightforward answer. It is a fact that the best, quickest and least costly process which can be executed by you both in the UK is for your father and you to execute a transfer in which he adds you on the title with him as a joint tenant.
This means that you will not require an application, after your father's death, for his estate to be administered whether for a grant of probate of his will or for a grant of Letters of Administration if there is no will relating to the subject parcel of land. This latter process is quite costly and could take an appreciable time, depending on how quickly or slowly the process is attended to in the registry of the court. This depends on where your application falls among the applications awaiting attention.
The deed transfer from your father to you and himself as joint tenants can be prepared by an attorney-at-law here in Jamaica and sent to you and your father in the UK for you both to execute, with the necessary statutory declaration, either before a notary public or before a consular officer at the Jamaican High Commission in the UK, after which they would be returned to the lawyer, who will see to the paying of the stamp duties due and the registration fee to effect the endorsement/registration on the title.
I have assumed that your father has a registered title for the land. If my assumption is correct, then it is a deed of transfer which must be done. If he does not, then it would have to be a deed of conveyance as it will then be a common-law title that he has.
I am explaining this matter on the basis that there is a registered title; therefore, in the deed of transfer, the consideration (value) for the transfer of what will be an undivided 50 per cent interest in the land that he is giving to you, must be stated therein and, in the circumstances, it will be 'for love and affection'. The transfer tax and stamp duties are calculated on the basis of the value of the said 50 per cent interest.
After you father's demise you need only again contact your lawyer and send a certified copy of his death certificate and the certificate of title so that your application to 'note his death on the title' can be prepared for you to sign (in the UK, if you wish) and for you to return the signed documents and have the process completed, stamped, and the death noted on the title leaving you as the sole survivor and legal proprietor of the land.
As I stated earlier, you do not have to be here in Jamaica at any time to get such a transfer endorsed on the title. Everything that's needed to be done can be done by the lawyer you retain, save for you and your father signing the document before one of the officials I mentioned above and returning them to your lawyer for the appropriate processing.
Please make sure that you choose a responsible lawyer who, after the endorsement is completed, must send your father his title with the said transfer endorsed thereon as soon as is possible. All these documents should be sent by courier service to ensure safety in transit, save for extraordinary accidents or acts of God.
I trust that I have clarified the process for you and illustrated its simplicity, and that it is the least costly process by which you can have your name on the title and later become the sole owner of the parcel of land.
All best wishes to you and your father.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to email@example.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.