Saturday, Jan 25, 2020
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Move made to improve probate law

People who steal, conceal or destroy a will may be fined or jailed once the Probate and Administration of Estates Bill comes into force.

Some parliamentarians believe this clause in the proposed act would discourage some of the infighting among families over their loved one’s will.

“These are necessary improvements in the law,”said Fort Charlotte MP Alfred Sears while contributing to debate on the bill in the House of Assembly yesterday.

“Too often we hear stories where families-these internecine conflicts among siblings and family members accusing other members of their families of having destroyed the will or concealed the will to gain a particular advantage. These are welcome additions to the law.”

Blue Hills MP Sidney Collie agreed.

“There have been instances in my practice where allegations have been made against family members of destroying the orignal will, or keeping it secret,”said Collie, who, like Sears, is an attorney.”This is very frustrating to beneficiaries.”

Under the act, any person who attempts to destroy, aid and abets a person to destroy, steal or conceal a will would commit an offense and would be liable to a fine not exceeding$5,000 and or a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years or both.

Collie said that is an”important provision”.

A person who makes a false declaration in respect of any application under the act, whether by omission or commission, would be guilty of an offense and would be liable upon summary conviction to a fine not exceeding$5,000.

The bill would repeal a part of the Supreme Court Act that relates to the provisions that deal with Probate Causes and Matters.

It seeks to consolidate and modernize the law regarding a grant of probate or letters of administration and resealing a foreign grant.

Sears said the bill represents a”commendable advance of the modernization of the laws dealing with probate and the administration of estate”.

Pineridge MP Kwasi Thompson also said the bill would systematically modernize Bahamian law as it relates to probates.

“It will make life in The Bahamas better,” Thompson said.”It will bring positive changes to the country. It will make the process simpler.”

Thompson, who is also a lawyer, talked about how cumbersome and frustrating the probate process is.

“A lot of people will shy away from going through the process of probate,”he said.”It’s an area that absolutely needs to be modernized.”

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