The application to be followed in recording the death of a registered owner depends on the tenancy held by the deceased owner or if he or she was the sole registered owner. Firstly, determine the tenancy. This can be done by reading the Certificate of Title. If there are more than one persons as owners then it will be stated whether they hold the land as joint tenants or tenants-in-common or whether they have an estate as a life tenant.
Joint Tenants/Life Tenant
To record the death of a joint tenant or a life tenant the following is required:
1. An application to Note the Death of a joint tenant or life tenant:
This should be done in the form of a Statutory Declaration. The application should be made by all the surviving joint tenants or remainder persons (the remainderperson(s) are the person(s) to whom the land will pass on the death of the life tenant). If the last surviving joint tenant/remainderperson is also deceased then the application can be made by the personal representative of the deceased once a grant of Probate or Letters of Administration has been received.
The application should contain, the name, address, and occupation of the applicant, the capacity in which they are applying, the description of the land as it appears on the Title, the name and date of death of the deceased registered owner, and should expressly apply to have the death noted.
In some instances the name of the deceased on the Title varies from the name on the Death Certificate. Where this occurs the applicant should account for this fact and expressly state that both names refer to one and the same person.
2. Certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased owner which will not be returned to the applicant.
3. If no certified copy death certificate is available, then the following is required:
4. Stamp Commissioner’s Certificate (Form 8) which verifies whether or not death duties have been paid. The application to note death should first be submitted to the Stamp Office before being lodged at the Titles Office. The application will be cross-stamped and signed by the Stamp Commissioner.
5. The duplicate Certificate of Title.
6. The appropriate registration fees.
It will then be noted on the Title that the owner has died and the date of his death.
Tenants-in-common or Sole Proprietor
When a sole proprietor or a Tenant-in-common dies then his or her personal representative can apply by way of a Transmission Application to have the administrator or executor registered on Transmission. Normally when a person dies, his or her estate is administered by one or more personal representatives.
These are person(s) to whom Probate (if the deceased died leaving a valid will) or Letters of Administration (if the deceased died leaving no will) have been granted by the Supreme Court or the Resident Magistrate Court. A Transmission Application is a legal document used to register the person or persons administering the estate of the deceased owner, this actually places that person in the shoes of the deceased owner. If probate or letters of administration has been granted to more than one or more personal representative then all of them must sign the application.
To record the death of a tenant-in-common or sole proprietor the following is required
a. The Transmission application.
This should contain the name, address and occupation of the applicant and the capacity in which they are applying; a full description of the land as it appears on Title; the value of the land at the date of death of the deceased; the court out of which probate has been granted and the date of grant; the name and date of death of the deceased owner; and any outstanding interest in the property. The executor/administrator should expressly apply to be registered on Transmission. Where the name of the deceased on the probate or letters of administration varies from that on the Certificate of Title, it should be expressly stated that both names refer to one and the same person.
b. Probate of the Will or Letters of Administration which is granted by the Supreme Court or the Resident Magistrate Court:
Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration issued in other Commonwealth jurisdictions must be resealed in the Supreme Court of Jamaica. The grant will be returned upon completion of the application provided that a copy of the grant is sent with the application.
c. Stamp Commissioner’s Certificate (Form 8) issued by the Stamp Office which verifies whether or not death duties have been paid. The Transmission Application should first be submitted to the Stamp Office before it is lodged at the Titles Office. The application will be cross-stamped and signed by the Stamp Commissioner.
d. The duplicate Certificate of Title.
e. The appropriate registration fees.
The personal representative will be entered on the title in their capacity as executor(s) or administrator(s). The personal representative may make an assent to the beneficiaries of the land or if they decide to sell may transfer the land to the purchaser at the same time that he or she is applying to be registered on transmission or after the personal representative is registered.
It is important to note that the Registrar neither has the duty nor is entitled to enquire as to how the deceased property is being distributed. The Registrar will always assume that the personal representatives are acting within their powers. For professional guidance on the distribution of a deceased estate please consult an attorney-at-law.