Business

Death certificates of nine deceased owners needed to complete sale of land

Tell Claudienne

With Claudienne Edwards

Sunday, January 12, 2014    

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Dear Claudienne,

Further to our telephone conversaton of August 28, 2012, regarding the government's acquisition of a parcel of land from a property in Hanover for the Northern Coastal Highway Improvement, I am now seeking your intervention in having the National Land Agency (NLA) (Commissioner of Lands) furnish the land title they contracted to do for the remaining lands of the estate.

From as far back as 1988, commununication was received by the executors of the estate, that the Government of Jamaica would be acquiring a strategic parcel of land, approximately 710 square metres, being part of the lands of the estate in Hanover, for the Northern Coastal Highway ( Negril to Portland Improvement Project).

On May 7, 2004, the Director of Corporate Legal Services at the NLA's Ardenne Road office in Kingston wrote and advised the executors that the Government of Jamaica, through the Commissioner of Lands, would be acquiring the afore-mentioned parcel of land on the following conditions:

a) Cash purchase price of $300,000 was being offered;

b) An initial payment of $240,000 would be made as soon as a Sale Agreement and other relevant documentation were completed.

c) A replacement (NEW) Certificate of Title would be issued for the remaining Thornhill Estate lands.

This was to be done in accordance with a "pre-checked plan" and the price of the land actually acquired would be determined.

On November 9, 2004, the NLA's Legal Services director, in response to a letter on August 19, 2004 from one of the executors, confirmed by letter that the lands acquired would be surveyed and the final price determined for same.

On December 14, 2005, the legal services director sent a Sale Agreement and other related documents for completion. The documents were completed and returned to the NLA on January 31, 2006.

On April 26, 2006, a letter was received from the legal services director with four cheques enclosed in the amount of $45,000 each, in

the names of the four remaining executors.

These cheques were dispensed to the payees. It was noted that there was a shortfall of $60,000, given the initial payment agreement of $240,000. It was presumed that the difference represented tax withheld although there was no explanation given for the variance.

To date there has been no formal response to a follow-up letter sent by one of the two surviving executors to the NLA. However, the NLA has verbally acknowledged the receipt of this letter.

Since then, interventions by other family members, including myself (who am the son of one of the deceased executors), with the hope of getting things moved to finality, have not been successful. It is to be noted that a number of the NLA officers have acknowledged being conversant with the incomplete state of affairs.

The two surviving executors, who are my aunts, are of advanced age. They have asked me to assist as they can no longer carry on this battle.

One is 101 years of age and the other is 91.

These unresolved matters have become, with each passing day, more protracted and untenable. This matter now needs to be resolved with the utmost urgency. Clearly, you would agree that the NLA is dragging its feet.

Another reason why the promised land title needs to be issued is that property tax is being claimed by the said Agency (NLA) on the original amount of lands, a financial and emotional burden on elderly rural folk.

Your assistance in bringing this matter to speedy resolution will be greatly appreciated, especially because, as you can see, my aunts are elderly and live in rural Jamaica.

DL

Dear DL

The initial Tell Claudienne communication to the NLA Legal Services director pertaining to your complaint was on October 17, 2012. She immediately wrote to the NWA and requested them to expedite the survey report for the estate.

After we ascertained the name of the NWA officer who was supervising the surveyor conducting the survey of the property, we communicated with him intermittently to get a progress report. In May 2013 the NWA officer advised us that the survey plan of the estate had been completed and submitted to the Surveys and Mapping Division (SMD) for approval. However, when we advised the NLA Legal Services director of this and she checked with the SMD, it was discovered that the wrong property had been surveyed. The survey of the correct property proved to be difficult as the surveyor had to reconstruct some of the boundaries because the original pegs had been lost. It was completed and sent to the SMD in September 2013.

We have been advised by the NLA Legal Services Division that before the new title for the estate can be prepared they need to get some additional information from the surviving executors.

NLA said that although nine of the joint tenants on the original estate title are now deceased, their deaths are not noted on the title as required by the law. The NLA said that they must be provided with the original death certificates of all nine deceased for them to be noted on the title. If the original death certificates cannot be found, the copies must be notarised and the person (s ) notarising them must provide the NLA with proof of appointment by the agency. It is not the job of the NLA to apply to note the deaths, but they have done your family a favour and have prepared all the necessary documentation for the deaths to be noted. The documents will have to be signed by the two surviving executors and returned to the NLA along with the death certificates. When the NLA is in receipt of these documents, they will complete the process for the new replacement title to be prepared.

Good luck.

Have a problem with a store, utility, a company? Telephone 936-9436 or write to: Tell Claudienne c/o Sunday Finance, Jamaica Observer, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; or e-mail: edwardsc@jamaicaobserver.com. Please include a contact phone number.

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