As the leading law firm in Belize, Glenn. D. Godfrey & Co. LLP, is well placed to help you with wills, probate and succession matters.
Probate in Belize is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate, settling all claims made against the estate, and distributing the property of the deceased person’s.
The assets belonging to the deceased at their time of death is subject to probate. Exceptions may apply to any assets placed in a form that allows it to bypass the process of probate, for example a trust or foundation.
As the executor of an estate containing assets in Belize, such as a vacation home or a trust, it is prudent to seek the assistance of a Belize probate lawyer.
If a person dies with a will, these are referred to as testamentary probate proceedings. If a person dies without a will, they are said to died intestate. Our team of experienced Belize probate attorneys regularly handle matters of Succession in the Supreme Court of Belize for both those that have died Intestate and those who have left Wills.
The Wills Act, Chapter 203 of the Laws of Belize states for a will to be valid, it should be in writing and signed by the Testator plus two witnesses. We handle the preparation of wills and trust documents, the Administration of Estates and provide guidance on matters of estate planning.
Upon the Testator’s death, a Grant of Probate should be applied for with the Probate Registry. At the time of applying for the Grant of Probate, the following items should be annexed – an affidavit authenticating the petition; an affidavit by the attesting witness to the will; an oath; an appraisal of the estate’s value; a bond; inventory of the estate’s assets; and a statutory declaration. After receiving a Grant of Probate, a notice to creditors will be printed in the government gazette and a local newspaper for two consecutive publications. The executor is then able to proceed with administering the estate in accordance with the will. Also, if the executor is not resident in Belize, we will help with nominating somebody to file for the Grant on their behalf.
Should the deceased die without creating a Will (i.e. died intestate), the Administration of Estates Act lays out the process of distributing the estate. In such circumstances, the rights of the surviving spouse and children are given first priority, then parents, then siblings, with whole blood preceding before half-blood.
For intestate proceedings, the administrator may submit a request to the court to grant them administration powers of the estate of the deceased by providing letters of administration including an administration petition, an affidavit authenticating said petition, an oath, a valuation of the estate’s assets, a bond supported by an affidavit, inventory of assets and a statutory declaration. Furthermore, notice must be given in the government gazette for three successive issues reflecting. Within two weeks of the last published notification, grant of administration is awarded, provided it is not contested by a third-party, and creditors are notified in the government gazette and in one newspaper for two consecutive editions. The administrator then has the green-light to dispense the estate’s assets in accordance with the succession laws of Belize.
There are no estate taxes in Belize. As such, beneficiaries are not liable to pay any taxes on the properties (assets) they receive from the deceased’s estate.
The probate process in Belize takes six to twelve months on average.