The Administrator General’s Department (AGD) is encouraging Jamaicans, particularly entertainers, to ensure they have a will in place for easier estate administration after death.
The AGD is responsible for administering the estates of persons who have died without leaving a will, have left assets to administer and have children under the age of 18 years.
Deputy Administrator General at the AGD, Stacie Ann Carty, speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, today (February 15), said while making a will is important for everyone, special focus is being placed on entertainers.
“The AGD has always championed the cause of estate planning, and one such tool is to make a will. But we are appealing specifically to persons who are writers, producers and entertainers, as we are in Reggae Month. So, we encourage this group to focus on writing a will, taking all the steps to put their estate in order and know the specific intricacies of their family life and family dynamics,” Mrs. Carty said.
The Department is currently administering 11 estates of deceased entertainers and has since established an intellectual property section to handle these matters specifically.
Mrs. Carty explained that beneficiaries can be “put in a tailspin if things are not in order and they have to go through intestacy”. “So, I suggest to everybody, if it is you don’t know what to do, you can contact us and we can give you some guidance; it’s not difficult. Unfortunately, we have an oral culture where persons think they can just say something and the gift passes to the person; but it doesn’t work that way. So, we can guide you, sit with you and explain what to do [through the AGD] or through the Jamaica Music Society,” she said.
Meanwhile, General Manager of the Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS), Evan Mullings, is calling on stakeholders within Jamaica’s music industry to take the matter of affairs management more seriously.
“As a musician, producer or performer, ensure you put your affairs in order, document everything, because we have seen problems in this regard as well. This happens where our performers, musicians and producers, the persons involved, they do not make it a habit to document what it is that they are doing, what they own and what they have rights to,” he said.
Mr. Mullings said when these persons come into the society, sometimes it is at that stage they are just trying to unravel and figure out how much of the rights (to a song, for example) they actually own.
“By that time, they should have already had that in place and sorted out. So, we want to encourage them to begin that process of documentation and establish very clearly what it is that you own the rights to. After that we also encourage persons to join a collective society. If not, persons would literally be leaving money on the table and not only here in Jamaica but internationally,” he said.
“Even if you are not necessarily in need of those royalties now, persons should ensure that their families and loved ones are able to benefit from it. If these things are not clearly outlined, then what happens is, those royalties end up in a pool that gets distributed to others who are part of the collective society after a number of years have passed. So, I want to encourage persons to make a will, but to also be very clear about how you want the musical assets to be apportioned,” Mr. Mullings explained.
For access to will forms and further details about will-making, persons can visit agd.gov.jm.
For entertainers looking to join JAMMS, persons can also visit jammsonline.com.