Inheritance tax and law
April 04, 2012
The Global Property Guide looks at inheritance from two angles: taxation, and what inheritance laws apply to foreigners leaving property in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: what restrictions there are and whether making a will is advisable.
There are no estate taxes in the islands.
Thanks to Caribbean International Law Firm
What inheritance laws apply in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines?
Inheritance laws affect everyone who owns property in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The laws which apply to inheritance law in In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) are the Administration of Estates Act Cap. 377, Probates (Resealing) Act Cap 381, Wills Act Cap 384, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules 2000(CPR 2000). The basic principles are:
- In inheritance issues, the law where the property is located applies.
- Persons do not have to be domiciled in SVG to inherit property in SVG.
- There is no discrimination due to race, religion, or nationality. No distinction is made between between foreigners who reside in SVG, and those who live abroad.
- If one spouse belongs to one nationality or religion and the other belongs to another, this does not affect the way inheritance law is applied.
- Property can be given freely to anyone prior to the owner's death
The High Court of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines deals with inheritance issues. All decisions about non-resident foreigner's property are made primarily in this court.
If probate or letters of administration are obtained in a court of a Commonwealth country, for example Britain, Canada, or Australia, the High Court recognizes the authority of the Commonwealth court. Upon resealing, the probate or letters of administration can be used to deal with assets in SVG.
Inheritance cases generally take six to eight months. However in exceptional circumstances inheritance proceedings have taken as long as three years.
There is no reserved portion.
A person can freely dispose of property in SVG to anyone in a will. If a person dies intestate (without a will) and leaves a spouse but no children, then the spouse is entitled to half, and the other half devolves to the Crown If the person leaves children and spouse, the spouse is entitled to one third and the children the other two thirds in equal shares.
If the inheritor cannot by law own property in SVG (e.g. if he/she belongs to a nationality which does not have reciprocal property-owning arrangements) then the property usually reverts to the Crown by way of an application by the Attorney General.
Foreign wills are valid in SVG.
Vincentian law provides for the acceptance of a will made outside of SVG on the condition that the will was properly executed, in accordance with the internal law of the territory in which it was made, or in the territory where, at the time of its execution or the testator's death, he/she was domiciled.
The formalities for making a will in SVG are:
- It must be in writing, and signed by the testator or by some other person in his/her presence and by his/her instructions.
- The signature must be made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time.
- The witnesses must attest and subscribe the will in the presence of the testator.
- The presence of a foreigner in SVG is required at the time of making the will.
SVG law accepts equitable ownership.
Like most Commonwealth countries the law of SVG looks at who really owns the property and make allowances for persons who have an equitable interest which can defeat the person with the legal title to the property.
With respect to married couples, Vincentian law looks at the law of the country where the property is located to determine legal ownership.
Minors require a trustee.
If a minor inherits real property in SVG then a trustee can be appointed by the court or in a will until the child reaches legal age.