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What Happens If You Die in The Bahamas Without a Will?

Posted by M. Margaret Gonsalves-Sabola | Jun 22, 2018 | 15 Comments

A will is a legal document that explains in writing how a person wants his assets to be distributed after his death. There are specific requirements for a will to be legally valid. It must be in writing and signed by the person making it, it must be signed in the presence of two independent witnesses, and it must appoint an executor of sound mind and over the age of eighteen. If someone dies without making a will or his will does not meet the above requirements, his assets will be distributed according to the inheritance laws of The Bahamas.

Dying without a will is also called dying intestate. If an intestate person leaves behind a living spouse, the spouse will receive all of the estate's assets. If the intestate person has a spouse and a child or children, the spouse receives half of the estate and the children share the other half equally. The estate of an intestate person with no spouse but living children goes to the children in equal shares. Without a spouse or living children, the estate passes to any grandchildren. If there are no grandchildren, the parents of the intestate person receive the estate assets. The Inheritance Act explains what will happen in other family scenarios that may arise.

Due to these inheritance rules, surviving relatives may learn that they own a fifty percent interest in a piece of property that they do not need or want. An owner may arrange for a buyout or may apply to the court for relief if another owner's occupation of the property adversely affects their interest.

The Inheritance Act does not permit stepchildren to inherit unless they are formally adopted. Any children born outside a marriage who seek to inherit would need to provide proof of paternity or maternity, such as a birth certificate. Sometimes, the court may allow other evidence of the relationship in considering whether a child born to an unmarried mother and father should inherit from either parent.

The Act also does not recognize common law marriage. Many people in common law relationships own assets jointly. The surviving person would be entitled to ownership of those assets, but not any assets owned solely by the deceased person.

To avoid application of the inheritance laws and to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death, make a will and update it after major life changes such as the deaths of family members or your executor, divorce, remarriage, or the birth of children.

To find out more about inheritance laws and making a will, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.

About the Author

M. Margaret Gonsalves-Sabola

M. Margaret Gonsalves-Sabola is a civil and commercial litigation attorney and an accredited civil and commercial mediator. Margaret has over 21 years' experience in legal practice in the United Kingdom, Jamaica and The Bahamas.


Jerome black Reply

Posted Dec 29, 2019 at 08:22:55


Lavardo Reply

Posted Jul 06, 2020 at 07:04:10

Do the law applies the same to liquid assets (cash), house, rental properties and businesses they same? My father died without a will and had all the previously listed assets.

Hill Reply

Posted Feb 15, 2021 at 22:34:00

My grandfather was born and died in the US but he grew up in Nassau and owned some land there. We cannot find the deed. If we go to Nassau for a records search and manage to find the deed, would his son (US citizen) be able to claim the land?

Candice baillou Reply

Posted Mar 16, 2021 at 18:59:47

If a father of 3 kids dies and has a house that is on generation property and was living with another women for 16 years because his wife left him for about 23years who inherits his house?

M. Margaret Gonsalves-Sabola Reply

Posted Mar 28, 2021 at 10:10:54

It depends on whether the father owned the generation property to begin with. If he did own it and he made a will, that will determine who is entitled to the property. If there is no will and the father was never divorced from his wife who left him 23 years ago, then the wife inherits a 50% share in the property and the children will share the other 50% equally. If the father was divorced from his wife then the 3 children will share the property equally.

M. Margaret Gonsalves-Sabola Reply

Posted Mar 28, 2021 at 10:31:18

If your grandfather made a will, the will may determine who inherits the property. If there is no will then the laws of the country/state where your grandfather was domiciled at the time of his death will generally determine who is entitled to his property. If under those laws his son is his sole heir then he can claim the land in The Bahamas.

Caitlyn Fox Reply

Posted Oct 08, 2021 at 02:01:25

Mother pass away with no will or a spouse ,she has 4 children one of whom she allowed to start to build on her property. If property is now shared amongst the 4 of them what would the son who is building have to do to get the land turned over to him? Also none of the other siblings wants anything to do with said land.

Shonte Reply

Posted Oct 20, 2021 at 06:14:44

If a mother had a child before she was married but died before having any children with her husband and never left a will for her properties who does the properties automatically go to? Considering that her name is the only name on the documents.

M. Margaret Gonsalves-Sabola Reply

Posted Oct 20, 2021 at 07:43:59

In The Bahamas if someone dies without a will but leaves behind a spouse and a child then under the inheritance laws the spouse and the child will share equally the property left by the deceased

M. Margaret Gonsalves-Sabola Reply

Posted Oct 20, 2021 at 08:29:23

The 4 children are entitled to share equally in the property left by their mother if there is no will. If 3 of the siblings do not want their share of the property they can renounce their interest or transfer their interest to their brother.

Ken French Reply

Posted Apr 17, 2023 at 06:06:27

If an intestate person leaves behind a living spouse, the spouse will receive all of the estate’s assets. If the intestate person has a spouse and a child or children, the spouse receives half of the estate and the children share the other half equally.
If the spouse re marries does that effect getting her share of the estate specifically property?

M. Margaret Gonsalves-Sabola Reply

Posted Apr 17, 2023 at 06:16:26

The inheritance of the spouse is determined at the date of death and not by any event that occurs afterwards. So, remarriage would not affect their right to inherit a half share, or the entirety of the estate.

B Kaulback Reply

Posted Apr 26, 2023 at 16:41:07

How would Bahamian inheritance and probate laws apply upon the death of a non-resident who owned property in the Bahamas and whose last will and testament dispersing all assets to their children was prepared and registered in Canada.

M. Margaret Gonsalves-Sabola Reply

Posted Apr 27, 2023 at 15:56:15

Inheritance laws are determined by the law of the place where the deceased lived, i.e. their domicile. If probate of the will has been granted in Canada, then the Canadian probate would need to be resealed by the Bahamian court.

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