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What is a will and why do I need one?

A Will is a document of wishes, where a person leaves their estate to beneficiaries. It is necessary to have a will so your wishes and the distribution of your assets are clear.

A will must be signed by the person making it in the presence of two witnesses, both of whom must be present at the time of signing.

A will is not valid in the Cayman Islands unless:

  • it is in writing; handwritten or typed is acceptable;
  • signed by the person making the will or some other person with his/her instruction.
  • A will has to be signed at the end;
  • A Will must be signed by the person making in the presence of two witnesses present at the same time, or the will must be signed on his behalf in front of two witnesses.

Who can I appoint to deal with my estate through my Will?

  • appoint an executor (male) or executrix (female);
  • appoint a trustee(s) where there is a trust arising under the will;
  • appoint guardian(s) to look after minor children;

When does my Will take effect?

A will do not take effect until a person dies. A beneficiary (a person entitled by the will to receive assets left by the deceased) does not have any interest in a testator’s assets while he/she is alive.

What are the benefits of having a will?

The principal benefits of having a will are that it dictates how your assets are divided amongst your beneficiaries on your death, it provides certainty for your family and dependents and allows you to plan for their financial futures.

Can my will be challenged?

A will can be challenged by a person who believes that they are entitled to be a beneficiary or have such other interest in the deceased’s assets.

Who can witness my will?

There are no requirements in the Wills Act as to who can be a witness save that any witness has to be mentally competent. A blind person is incapable of witnessing a will since the will have to be witnessed (signed) in his/her ‘presence’ and he/she is unable to ‘witness’ the act.

Where do I keep my will?

You can keep your will in a safe place or if you have a trusted friend or family member you can have them keep your will.

How long does a will last for?

A will is valid until either it is revoked or until probate has been granted by the Grand Court. Upon the grant of probate, the executor has one year to administer, divide and distribute the deceased’s estate in accordance with the terms of the will.

How can I revoke my will?

A will by its very nature can be revoked. There are four methods of revocation:

  • marriage or civil partnership, except a will made in the exercise of a power of appointment;
  • burning, tearing or otherwise destroying of a will or codicil by the testator with the intention of revoking it;
  • drafting of another will or codicil executed in the manner required by law; and
  • duly executed writing by the testator declaring an intention to revoke.
  • No will, when revoked, will be revived otherwise than by re-execution or codicil.

What happens to any assets that I left for my child(ren) who have died before me?

Where a will named a testator’s child as a beneficiary and that child dies before the testator but left a child(ren) of their own, that child(ren) will be entitled to receive their parent’s share of the estate.