When a shareholder in a Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands (BVI) company dies, there are some common misconceptions about how the deceased's shares are transferred.
These legal issues are not unique to the Cayman Islands or the BVI; they arise in almost all common law jurisdictions that have adopted English law.
Firstly, it is important to understand one of the principles of common law: unity of the estate. This is a technical legal term that can be translated as: a man must be just before he is generous.
The estate of any deceased person has to be dealt with as a whole because the assets of a person in any jurisdiction have to be available to pay his or her creditors in any other jurisdiction.
Inevitably, the surest way in any legal system of centralising questions of who has authority over the property of others is through the courts....