Whenever you advise an average Nigerian about writing a Will, the first thing that comes to their mind is whether you are predicting or wishing them dead. This is an archaic notion and does not fit into the present-day reality. The importance of having a will in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized.
The Wills Act stipulates that a valid Will can only be made by a person who is above 18 (Eighteen) years of age. So, an underage person cannot make a Will, except if he is a seaman, mariner, or part of a crew of a commercial airline. The hazardous nature of their jobs makes the law envisage that there is a higher chance of exposure to deadly accidents in the course of their duty. Therefore, the law allows them to make a valid Will even though they are less than the statutory age.
By Nigerian law, when a person dies without having a Will, the person is said to have died intestate. However, when a person writes a Will, he/she is said to have died testate. Different laws guide dying intestate and dying testate. However, the dying testate affords more benefits than the other.
The benefits of making a will can never be overemphasized and the same will be discussed below for a proper understanding;
- Avoidance of cost and the tedious process of assessing Letters of Administration:
Obtaining letters of administration to administer a deceased’s estate takes time, and money as well as it is a tedious process. This could lead to the devaluation of the estate of a Testator while waiting for the grant of letters of administration, unlike a Will which comes into operation quicker.
- Avoidance of incessant suits in court:
It is very common in Nigeria, especially in a polygamous family, upon a man’s death, for disputes to arise among the children over properties. Where a Testator writes a valid Will before his death, the likelihood for the Court to upturn it is very uncommon. This makes the wishes of the Testator stand. Unnecessary and Incessant suits over the estate will be also avoided.
- Protection of underage and dependents
A Will is a reliable means to protect underage children and dependents from being deprived of their parent’s assets by relatives or any person. It also helps to cater to dependents irrespective of their status or relationship.
- To avoid your properties being shared according to customary law:
when a person dies intestate, the deceased person’s property will be shared according to customary law. Most customary laws are outdated. Some customs do not allow properties to be bequeathed to female children and wives of the deceased. To prevent these outdated customs, it is important for a person to make a Will.
- A Will allows a person to determine how assets will be distributed
A Testator can also take care of specific matters in his Will, i.e. if the Testator, has a Company, he can take care of issues like who will be the directors of the Company upon his demise and the transmission of shares in the Company.
- To appoint Executors of the Estate:
To have the choice of appointing executors to administer his estate. He can choose persons whom he trusts and who has his interest to carry out his wishes after his death.
7. To take care of other incidental matters
A Will can also be used to appoint guardians for one’s young children and wards. This is to ensure that the affairs of that child or ward are taken care of even after the Testator’s death. Specific funeral arrangements of the Testator can also be included in a Will.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A VALID WILL
For a will to be valid, it must comply with the following conditions;
- It must be in writing.
- The testator must be above 18 years old . However, some exception for people who are members of the armed forces or Sailors of the sea, specifically they do not have to be 18 years of age, and the Will in certain circumstances do not have to be in writing.
- The will must be signed by the testator and must be attested and signed by witnesses.
- The will must also have been made by a person who knew and approved of its content and who was acting on their own free win.
It is easy to write a will. Unless you do not have a large or particularly complex estate or contentious family dynamics, then you need expert advice from a lawyer. Making a Will does not mean that a person will die soon. It only ensures that upon a person’s demise, the properties of the person will be shared in accordance with the person’s wishes amongst the person’s beneficiaries.
 Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837
 However some exception for people who are members of the armed forces or Sailors of the sea, specifically they do not have to be 18 years of age, and the Will in certain circumstances do not have to be in writing.
Email us: [email protected]