Obtaining title for ‘dead lef’ property
I had promised last week that I would be answering questions sent to me by you, the readers, and that’s what I will do today.
The matter of land and property has opened up a surfeit of persons thirsting for information and knowledge about circumstances in their own lives pertaining to property and ownership.
Q. Mr Francis,
I have inherited a parcel of land from my father and I have been occupying same for approximately 15 years. The taxes for the property are still coming in the name of my father, who has died for as long as I have been occupying the property. I have a surveyor’s diagram for the property and would like to obtain a certificate of title for same. How do I go about obtaining a certificate of title?
A. Thanks for your question, Mr Walters.
You can acquire the property by one of two ways, depending on what documentations you have. You said you have inherited the property. Was there a will? Was it probated?
Grant of probate
If you have a will that has not been probated, you will need to procure the services of a lawyer who can make an application for a grant of probate of the will. This is necessary because the property of the deceased cannot be sold or transferred to the beneficiaries (which you are) without a grant of probate. The process involves applying to the Supreme Court of Jamaica for the grant of probate and the following documents are required:
1. Certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased;
2. The original of the last will and testament of the deceased (if you cannot find the original, a copy can be used. However, the lawyer will have to obtain the permission of the court to use it);
3. Oath of executor. Other miscellaneous documents may include affidavit of plight and condition, affidavit of due execution and affidavit of delay;
4. Revenue affidavit.
When the requisite stamp duty fees and taxes are paid, the grant of probate is given. Then you can then have your lawyer apply for a certificate of title for the land.
Letters of administration
If no will was made, you will have to apply for letters of administration from the administrator general (consult a lawyer). When you have obtained a certificate from the administrator general, this document, together with several others, will be filed/lodged with the Supreme Court, which will issue a grant of probate. When you have received same you can then apply for a certificate of title.
You stated that you have in your possession a surveyor’s diagram. This diagram has to be aged seven years or less to be valid for use in your quest for title acquisition. If it is more than seven years old, you will require the services of a commissioned land surveyor to either verify and/or replace your boundary marks and prepare what is called a surveyor’s declaration.
If the property boundaries have changed since the time your surveyor’s diagram was done, he/she will have to survey same and prepare a new diagram for checking at the survey department of the National Land Agency. With that in hand, along with your grant of probate and other essential documents, you can go about getting that title you so desire.
Look out for the Matter of Land tour in the summer and be part of this exciting knowledge fest.
Continue to read as we contemplate A Matter of Land.
Craig Francis is a commissioned land surveyor and managing director of Precision Surveying Services Ltd. Email questions or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact him on his Facebook page, Precision Surveying Services.