The law in Gibraltar on all testamentary matters is set out in the Wills Act of 2009 which is based on the United Kingdom Wills Act 1963 and on the Gibraltar Administration of Estates Act.
There are two basic ways in which the assets of a deceased person are dealt with under Gibraltar law, under a will or on intestacy.
Where the deceased dies testate, that is, where he left a will, the persons named as Executors in the will need to seek a Grant of Probate in respect of the will from the Gibraltar Supreme Court. The procedure is an administrative one involving an application by the Executors to Court. This must be supported by an affidavit and an undertaking to collect all the assets of the deceased and distribute these in accordance with the terms of the will and to provide to the Supreme Court, if required, with a full inventory and render an account of the assets.
Where the deceased dies intestate, that is, without having left a will, the next of kin or, if they refuse, someone appointed by the Supreme Court, can apply for the Grant of Letters of Administration. In granting these, the Court will appoint the applicant as Administrator of the estate. Once the assets of the deceased have been collected by the Administrator, they have to be distributed in accordance with the list set out in the Administration of Estates Act.
On intestacy, the surviving spouse receives the assets of the deceased and, if there are children, the spouse receives part of the estate and the children the rest. In the absence of a spouse or children, the parents of the deceased inherit and so on through remoter members of the family.
Disputes relating to testamentary matters are dealt with under the United Kingdom Non-Contentious Probate Rules of 1987 where application to the Supreme Court needs to be made for the resolution of any contentious issues.
We can advise on all aspects of testamentary matters, including the drawing up of wills and will trusts, obtaining Probate or Letters of Administration from the Supreme Court and the distribution of the assets of the deceased, advising Executors and Administrators as to the extent of their duties and dealing with proceedings in Court on all matters of a contentious nature including disputed wills, entering caveats, rights or priority of inheritors, distribution of assets, missing beneficiaries or the effect of competing testamentary external laws or jurisdictions.
There is no inheritance tax in Gibraltar and all testamentary dispositions may be received by inheritors free of Gibraltar tax.