Supposing any of you are widowed.
Supposing that you and your late husband had worked all your lives to accumulate a little nest egg to secure financial comfort in your golden years and that everything you own was in your husband’s name.
The funeral is over and you go to the lawyers and ask them to obtain probate in your husband’s estate so that you can continue to have the means to live (either in accordance with your husband’s Will or he may have died intestate, let us deal with the intestate part another time.) The lawyers will enter the Will for probate.
There was a time in Barbados and in some other jurisdictions, the process of probate would have taken between 6 and 12 weeks from the time the lawyers filed the application.
Today, the Registry takes TWO (2) YEARS.
So what are your avenues for recourse? Remember, your husband’s assets are FROZEN until probate is granted. You rely on the charity of family and friends.
You take a copy of your late husband’s Will to the bank and arrange (with all the stress that goes with dealing with banks) to borrow money at the prevailing interest rate in lieu of completion of the probate in your husband’s estate, or you go to other individuals or institutions that may charge you even more interest.
You find that the house previously occupied by your husband and yourself is too large and the maintenance is too expensive and you want to downsize. Forget it, you are unfortunately positioned! You have to stick it out. All the hard work, sweat and effort of your late husband and you to provide for your comfort and security in your old age is as NOTHING!
In many cases, the Will might have as its executor a lawyer or someone entitled to charge for services to perform as executor. The job of the executor is to wind-up the Estate as soon as possible. But, two (2) years later, you see executor’s fees that have escalated, in many cases, to a point where you might just as well sign over the entire Estate to the executor and those who have loaned you money.
Three years ago, it was taking an unacceptable one year to obtain probate. Today, it takes TWO years. At this rate, in another three years you may be waiting three, four or even FIVE years. God Knows!
Here is yet another instance of the surrender of the so-called “Justice System” in Barbados. The fault lies squarely at the door of the Registrar of the Courts and the army of occupation charged with ensuring an efficient administration of the court. To boot, successive governments have preferred to sacrifice efficient oversight of justice in Barbados at the altar of political expediency as well as not to rock the boat with civil servants. Let us not bother to mention that one time the Arthur administration breached a tenet long established of making CJ appointments which did not breed the thought of political mischief.
The fact that many of these civil servants themselves are haunted by the Registrar/Government trap that negates all their efforts to provide for themselves in their old age, has absolutely no effect whatsoever.
here is news for the Registrar and Government. Foreign ownership in Barbados is a fact of life with all these multi-million dollar homes, so there are foreigners caught up in the Registrar and Government’s inexcusable conduct. The news of Barbados’ stressed Legal System has already spread internationally. We have seen the terminal state of foreign off-shore investment. So, how much longer before our top-end property market starts to fall.
And who suffers for it? GUESS!
BU invites all those who suffer under this oppressive Judicial System to share their experiences. Let us all complain LOUDLY and OFTEN until something is done.