When it comes to dealing with wills and inheritance it can all appear very confusing. It’s not something many of us have to think about until the time comes, and the industry is filled with legal terms that most of us have never heard of. It doesn’t have to be that confusing though. This month, we delve into one of the more technical-sounding terms – grant de bonis non – what it means and how you can ensure that you are not affected by it.
What does grant de bonis non mean?
It is actually short for grant de bonis non administratis, also known simply as administratis. It literally means ‘goods not administered’ in Latin and applies in either of the following three instances:
- when the sole or last surviving executor of a will dies before having completed the administration of the estate they are responsible for
- when the last or sole surviving executor dies where the chain of administration is broken, and the estate has not yet been (fully) administered
- when the last or sole surviving executor becomes mentally incapacitated
In any of these situations, the executor(s) has not left a will so an application must be made to the probate court for a grant de bonis non which will allow the next of kin of the last or first (if there were more than one) executor to take over administration of the estate.
Who takes over?
If there was only one executor then their next of kin will be responsible for taking over their administration of estate they were managing. If there were more than one, then the responsibility will fall to the next of kin of the first to pass away.
How can you avoid this complex situation?
While the process may not necessarily be complex, it will delay administration of the deceased’s estate. It occurs when the executor has died intestate – in other words, without having left a will – so it will take some time before their affairs are in order and the correct paperwork filed with the probate court to enable the process to continue.
The importance of having a will in place
This situation emphasises the importance of having a will in place, especially if you are an executor for someone else. By having a will you must automatically appoint an executor, or executors, whose job it will be to make sure that your wishes are fulfilled in accordance with what is in your will. In the case where your executor dies, though, it also means that there is no time wasted in trying to identify their next of kin as they will have also appointed an executor. This person will then also assume responsibility for administering your will as well.
Choosing the right executor
Choosing an executor for your will is not a simple process. You want someone that you trust to do what you ask, regardless of how controversial it may be. They should also ideally be someone younger than you who is more likely to live for longer. Appointing more than one executor can also help to make sure that someone you have selected is entrusted with the job, in case one of your executors passes away as well.