Registration of Primary Family Homestead
Heather Chilvers, Sales Agent at Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty examines the importance of registering your home as a primary family homestead, especially if you own multiple properties in Bermuda and do not live in the property of highest value.
Registering the primary family homestead is important for reducing the liability of your estate to stamp duty payable upon your demise (i.e. “death tax”).
However the procedure is quite involved, I will try and outline it briefly for you.
The application form is available from the front desk of the Office of the Tax Commissioner. It is not on a website nor is it available by email.
If the property is owned jointly by let’s say a husband and wife, but it could be mother and son or brother and sister etc. Each owner must submit a separate form. Successful certificates issued cannot be mailed, you will be called and they can be collected from Office of the Tax Commissioner. Someone else can collect the Primary Family Homestead Certificate once ready on your behalf; however the Office of the Tax Commissioner will advise you of the proper process for making such arrangements.
You will need the following documentation and it must be original or certified copies, in order to apply for a certificate designating your residential property of choice – typically the one of highest market value as the primary family homestead. If you are unable to obtain a certified copy of the necessary documents you may take the originals to the Office of the Tax Commissioner and they will copy for their records.
Your Actual Bermuda Passport with a stamp confirming Bermuda Status or a certificate of Bermudian Status.
Your actual birth certificate
Your original Government issued photo identification such as Drivers Licence, voter’s card or senior’s card.
The original deeds of ownership, conveyance, voluntary conveyance lease or assignment of lease, or a will representing the owner’s current interest in the property, and other relevant deeds, dating back 20 years.
Details of any planning applications approved or pending in the Department of planning for subdivision of the property (if any)
List of all assessment numbers of that property
Effective 1st April 2014 application fee for a Certificate designating your property as the primary family homestead is $26. However if you have lost or destroyed the Certificate, it costs $53 to re-issue.
If you sell your property you can use a cancellation form and reapply to designate the new property or another property (if applicable).
If you only have one property and have not designated it as your primary homestead, application can be made by the estate representative after death.
However, and this is why you need to make application now rather than later. If you have multiple homes the Estate Representative can make application, BUT the Estate Representative must designate the house with the least value as your primary family homestead if you did not reside in any of your residential properties at the time of your death.
Heather Chilvers is amongst Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s Leading Sales Representatives. She has been working in Real Estate for 25 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 332 1793. All questions will be treated confidentially.