LET’S CLEAR SOME AIR AROUND WRITING WILLS!

DOES MAKING A WILL ANTICIPATE DEATH?

Apparently, walking up to an average Nigerian and asking them if they have a will can cause an uproar. The thought of you wishing them death is the next thing that pops up on their minds. Whereas, having a will does not mean you’re increasing your susceptibility towards mortality, it just simply means you love your loved ones enough to administer how your properties should be disposed without them plunging them into a sea of decisions that you could have made for them. 

A person who dies without making a will is said to have died intestate. And this has caused more harm than good in most families, there have been cases where the authenticity of a will was questioned, how much more where there is none. 

This is the very point the need for a will arises. One of the reasons to have a will is that it confers on a person the sole right to determine how they want their property to be administered, or how they want to be buried.

WHAT IS A WILL?

A will is a legal document in which an individual known as the Testator declares how they would like their assets to be distributed after demise. Individuals designated to receive any of the properties of a testator are called Beneficiaries, while individuals designated to administer or execute the desires of the testator as written in the will are called Executors

WHAT IS CONTAINED IN A WILL?

A will helps to determine person(s) who will be executors, persons who will be beneficiaries to the testator’s assets and in cases of minors, invalids or aged; persons who will be guardians for any minor or dependents. 

It also helps to administer some special properties like insurance policies, retirement accounts, shares or stock, etc. 

CAN A WILL BE AMENDED?

A lot of people come up with clauses like: ‘’I am still young, if I make a will now can it be amended in later circumstances’’. Oh Yes! A will can be amended, this can be done either by making a new will or by amending the earlier made. This amendment is what is referred to as CODICIL in law. 

HOW CAN WE DETERMINE THE VALIDITY OF A WILL?

  1. It must be written.
  2. The testator must have attained the age of 18.
  3. The testator must be of sound mind.
  4. The signature of the testator must be appended on the will in the presence of witnesses.
  5. Such will must not be written or made under duress or undue influence.

CAN A WILL BE UNWRITTEN?

A will does not always have to be in writing, it could be in oral, this is usually referred to as NUNCUPATIVE or DEATH-BED WILL. It is a will that is spoken to witnesses but not written. Such wills are valid only in a few states and only in very limited and unusual circumstances. This is because memories fade and information not written down can easily be forgotten, added to, removed from, or totally changed.

DOES A TESTATOR NECESSARILY HAVE TO ATTAIN THE AGE OF 18 YEARS?

This does not apply in all cases, members of the Armed Forces and Naval Officers do not necessarily have to attain the age of 18 years to make will.

WHO SHOULD BE AN EXECUTOR?

An executor is an individual inferred in law as a person in Fiduciary (trust based) Relationship with the testator. He is to act in good faith in carrying out his duties to the testator and beneficiaries. Such individuals may be trusted friends or relatives, spouse of the testator, a child or any adult whom the testator finds trustworthy and reliable.

However, it is always better to have a lawyer as an executor. An executor must ensure that the testator’s wishes under the will are carried out to the letters. 

WHERE IS MY WILL SAFE?

  • At the probates registry of your state.
  • With Your lawyer.
  • At the bank.
  • Safety Deposit box: Never store your will in a safety deposit box unless someone else has access to it.
  • In your home: Make sure it’s safe from water and fire.

However, wherever you choose to keep your will should be known and easily accessible to your executors.

The very importance of a will cannot be over emphasized, it doesn’t mean you wish yourself death, it’s just a means of taking charge of your “life” even when you’re no more. Would you like to talk to a lawyer about your will? Click here

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