In this article I will address some of the general principles of Bermuda divorce law and also take a look at some misconceptions which are fairly widely held. At the outset, however, I must stress that time and space will not permit a very detailed analysis and I would counsel anyone engaged in, or considering, a divorce to seek the advices of an experienced matrimonial lawyer.
Firstly, let’s look at jurisdiction. Sometimes clients are confused about their right to initiate a divorce in Bermuda. Ours is a cosmopolitan population and many clients will have been married overseas, leading some of them to believe that any divorce must take place in their “home” jurisdiction. Not so. If either party to the marriage is “domiciled’ in Bermuda (in effect, Bermuda is home) or has been resident continuously in Bermuda for one year or more, our courts can entertain a divorce petition.
It is essential that every individual, regardless of age, makes their own Will. If you die without making a Will then you die intestate which means that a court can distribute your assets in accordance with the law at that time. This may result in your home and hard earned investments being distributed to siblings, cousins, even further removed relatives or the Bermuda Government! It is fundamental that you make a Will in order to maintain control over your assets even when you have passed.
There are a few options when contemplating making your Will.
Bermuda is emerging as a leader in the global insurance linked securities (ILS) market, just three years after ILS were first listed on the Bermuda Stock exchange. This is no small achievement for Bermuda, which will further make its mark on the world stage when it plays host to the global ILS conference, Convergence 2013, in November. What sets Bermuda apart? According to Dr. Grant Gibbons, Minister for Economic Development, Bermuda’s success can be attributed to having the right mix of several critical factors at the right time. “A combination of intellectual capital, leading investor and reinsurance marketplaces, a tried and tested approach and the right listing and regulatory backdrop”, explained Dr. Gibbons, “[all] provide for optimal conditions and competitive advantage for transacting insurance-linked deals”.
Bermuda is one of the world’s largest reinsurance markets, hosting some 1,400 insurance companies with total assets of approximately $442 billion. The Island has over three decades of experience in providing sophisticated insurance solutions to a global client base and as host of the global ILS conference in November, Bermuda will see insurance and reinsurance companies, investors, sponsors, securities firms and investment banks, asset managers, regulators and service providers congregate to network and discuss the industry’s most strategic opportunities and pressing challenges.
“Remember to take your SCARF into negotiations” may seem like odd advice. It isn’t. SCARF, an acronym for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness, should not be overlooked and should be taken into account when entering into negotiations.
“Status” refers to the need to be respected and treated as an equal;
“Certainty” to the need for some predictability and security;
“Autonomy” the sense of having choices and some control;
“Relatedness” the need for collegiality and a sense of belonging/trust; and
Death is a subject most of us prefer not to talk about — especially our own. For this reason the same holds true for wills. As an attorney though, it is my duty to advise you that making a will is something you ought to face up to — and in this article I am going to tell you why.
A will is a vital instrument in your trove of estate planning tools as you grapple with planning for your family after your death and estate planning is critical as you undertake new responsibilities, acquire new assets or your family structure changes.
In the absence of having a will, the law, by way of the Succession Act 1974, will decide what happens to your real and personal property (your “Estate”). In the event you do not wish your Estate passing to a particular family member (in default of a will) or you wish to ensure it passes to a person or persons, having a will in place will allow you to spell out exactly how your Estate will devolve.