Basseterre, St. Kitts (December 9, 2015) — The Sugar Workers Restoration Fund (SWRF) is making concerted efforts to ensure that claims made by third parties, on behalf of deceased persons, are processed in a timely but legally acceptable manner to avoid future litigations.
“As Chairman of Sugar Workers Restoration Fund Committee I want appeal to the beneficiaries, those who have claimed on behalf of deceased persons, to be patient with us,” said Mr Osbert DeSuza. “We know that it is a legal process that we are following in order to ensure that we do not have any litigation against the committee in the future.”
Mr DeSuza, who is also the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, pointed out that the government had done everything possible to assist persons who are claiming on behalf of their deceased relatives, and the first step that it took was to provide them free legal services.
Lawyers have been engaged by the government to assist persons claiming on behalf of deceased persons to acquire letters administration that would allow them to collect the cheques due to their loved ones. However, according to the lawyers, the matter has to go through a process and it is in this regard that Mr DeSuza is making the appeal.
“We are also aware that in our country matters that go to the court take some time,” observed Mr DeSuza. “So we are appealing to the persons to be patient and just hold strain because whatever is due to them will be forthcoming to them.”
The lawyers are available at the Sugar Workers Restoration Fund Secretariat at South Independence Square in Basseterre, and times for consultations are arranged by the Secretariat staff.
“The Fund is trying to limit the cost, because some of the estates are small and so in order to ensure that too much of it is not lost to the legal process of claiming, the Government engaged attorneys to assist,” said attorney-at-law Ms Deniece Alleyne in an earlier interview. “We are here at various times and we are seeing people. It is quite busy; I understand that there are several hundred claims for deceased persons.”
She noted that when someone dies, all the property they owned at the time of the death becomes their estate. The law prescribes who may deal with the estate, and that person has to be a personal representative. There are two ways in which one could become a personal representative.
When a person who died had left a will which is called testate, an executor or executors are named and it is they who are entitled to apply to the court to get a grant of probate of the will and they are the personal representatives. The persons appointed do not necessarily have to be family members. If the person died without a will (intestate), there is a piece of legislation, the Intestate Estates Act that prescribes who may apply to the court for a grant of what is called letters of administration.
“It is a process which requires a lawyer and the lawyer has to draft documents that have to go through the Inland Revenue,” said Ms Alleyne. “Although we do not have death duties, we still need a certificate of exemption from stamp duty, so it goes to Inland Revenue. You get your certificate of exemption, then it goes to the court and then it goes through the process and the Registrar of the High Court or the Judge signs off on your grant.
“When that process is completed, then you are the designated person that the Sugar Workers Restoration Fund (SWRF) can release the property of the deceased to.”