On 3 June 2020, the States of Deliberation passed a resolution approving the transfer of jurisdiction for the grant of Probate and Letters of Administration to the Royal Court. Since that date, and because legislation had to be drafted and approved, and the necessary practical arrangements made, the Ecclesiastical Court has retained jurisdiction and continued to function as usual.
In the Government Work Plan - stage 1, published on 12 February 2021, the Policy & Resources Committee proposed the recission of a number of extant resolutions, including those relating to the transfer of probate jurisdiction to the Royal Court. This proposal was considered at the meeting of the States of Deliberation starting on 17 March 2021. The proposal of the Policy & Resources Committee was agreed. Therefore the Ecclesiastical Court continues to exercise its historic jurisdiction for probate and other matters.
In response to the public debate on this matter, the Ecclesiastical Court has prepared a set of 'frequently asked questions' which have been sent to deputies and the Guernsey media. The FAQs are available here.
Applying for a Guernsey Grant of Representation (Probate or Letters of Administration)
A Grant of Representation is the document which formally allows someone to administer the personal property held in Guernsey of someone who has died.
If a valid Will has been left and there is a named Executor who is willing and able to act as such, the Grant will be of Probate.
If a valid Will has not been left (or if there is a valid Will but it names no Executor, or if the named Executor is unable or unwilling to act as such), the Grant will be of Letters of Administration.
A Grant of Representation allows the person (or persons) named in it to deal only with personal estate (that is, anything except Guernsey real property).
How to apply
You need to telephone or write to the Probate Registry (Ecclesiastical Court) and tell us:
- Where the deceased died
- Whether a Grant of Representation has been issued, or will be applied for, in another jurisdiction
- Whether the deceased left a Will (testate) or died without a Will (intestate)
- The value of the relevant assets
Once an asset holder, such as bank or other financial institution, has confirmed that a Guernsey Grant is required, the Court will require the value, at the date of death, of all Guernsey assets held by the deceased.
Initial enquiries may be made by email or telephone. However, original documents must be sent to the Court by post or personal delivery. Scanned documents will not be accepted in lieu of original documents (although these can be sent to the Court for preliminary advice, especially for applicants not resident or represented in Guernsey; once we have assessed the documents, we can let you know what additional information we might need).
An application can be made in one of the following ways:
- By application in person direct to the Ecclesiastical Court
- By postal application to the Ecclesiastical Court
- Through a lawyer or accountant
Documents we will require
We will ask you to send copies of certain documents to us either in the post or in person. Once we have assessed the documents we can let you know what additional information we might need.
We will ask for either the original or acceptably authenticated copies of the relevant documents to be sent to us.
We will also need an original utilities bill confirming your current address. The bill must be no more than three months old.
We might ask for other documents such as:
- Affidavits of law
- Certificates of inheritance
- Court orders / judgements
The death certificate, your photo ID, the asset valuations and your utility bill will be returned to you as soon as possible.
All documents in a language other than English must be accompanied by an official translation done by a Government or Court appointed translator. Translations by private translation firms are not acceptable.
Court fees are payable. Each application varies in cost. The tariff is available here. The exact fee will be confirmed by the Court.
Attendance at the Court
The Ecclesiastical Court sits each Friday at 0930 (except Good Friday and the Fridays closest to Christmas Day). An appointment will be offered for local applicants to attend the Court when the Grant of Representation is issued. Other arrangements will be made for applicants who are not resident in Guernsey, and for those who have difficulty attending in person.
Procedure at the Court sitting
The procedure for each Estate takes only a few minutes. The applicant(s) will be asked to confirm that the document presented is the Will of the deceased (or that there was no Will), and then to swear an Oath or make an Affirmation. There is no obligation at all to swear an Oath of a religious nature; but applicants who are content can do so.
If you already have a Grant in England & Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland
Guernsey is not part of the UK. Therefore, a separate Grant may be required by a Guernsey bank or other body where the assets are held.
Applying for a Guernsey Grant ahead of applying for a Grant (or the equivalent) in the jurisdiction of domicile
If a Grant or the equivalent is required elsewhere, it is usually cheaper to apply in Guernsey after a Grant has been issued in the other jurisdiction.
If there is no requirement for a Grant or equivalent elsewhere, you must let us know when making your initial enquiries.
An asset holder can at its discretion release funds of any amount without the need for a Guernsey Grant. The decision to require Probate is entirely up to the asset holder concerned; an asset holder might ask for a Grant irrespective of the value of the Guernsey estate.
Copies of Grants of Representation issued in Guernsey
Copies of Grants are available for a fee, upon request.
The Ecclesiastical Court cannot deal with disputes in respect of estates. It might be necessary to obtain legal advice in this regard.