Do you want to be there for your family and loved ones after you are gone? If yes, then you need to prepare a WILL before demise. I know you are still young and vibrant and you are not expecting to leave anytime soon. Of course nobody wants to die, but sometimes, the unexpected do happen, this is the more reason you can’t afford to shy away from this very topic. What I have done is to help you approach this topic from the very real angle and the knowledge shared is based on real life situations and the provisions of Nigerian laws on the subject.
What do we mean by ‘WILL’?
A Will is a document by which a person gives his property to a beneficiary of his/her choice to take effect after demise. A Will is capable of being edited or even discarded at any time before the demise of the maker.
The maker of a Will is regarded in legal parlance as the “testator (male) /testatrix (female)”. A person may by a Will provide for the distribution of his/her wish or even property upon demise, either to one's children, husband or wife, relatives or donation towards charitable purposes as the case may be.
When a person makes a Will, the person is said to have died testate, but where none is made, such person is said to have died intestate in which event, the person's family will have to apply to the government for a letter of administration to be able to take possession of the benefits of the demised person.
In Nigeria majority of adults see having a Will as something for old people anticipating death. Asking a young adult in Nigeria to have a Will is considered to mean a prayer for the death of the person. You may therefore hear an answer like “God forbid bad thing”; some may even tag you an enemy of progress.
Notwithstanding the popular stigma against making a Will, It is pertinent and cheaper to have a WILL. By so doing, you will cater for future contingencies, and keep your love ones in harmonious relationship while you are away, rather than putting them in disarray and disagreements over the inheritance you left behind. You can even instruct your loved ones about the befitting things you want them to do for you. What more? You will save your loved ones from the stress of asking the government for a letter empowering them to manage your entitlements (the grant of this letter sometimes takes more than a year to process).
Having laid a foundation for what I intend to establish, below are lucid points on why you should engage your lawyer to prepare your Will without any further delay:
a. It makes your desires clear and leaves nobody in doubt of those desires. This way, you do not leave anybody guessing about what you would have wanted, and through that, you keep your loved ones in unity.
b. You may desire to appoint those that you wish should be in charge of carrying out your instructions after demise; they are referred to as the EXECUTORS of your Will.
c. It is cheaper to prepare your Will than leave your loved ones to be at the mercies of the government. If you really want to value this point, ask someone who has had to process the collection of Letter of Administration from the Government. For instance, I have interviewed clients before who could not access the account balance of a demised loved one because the money in the account is almost equivalent of the amount they will use to process a letter of administration from the government.
d. A Will can be used to provide instructions for the mode of burial that the maker wants.
e. If you have a heart for helping people from your wealth, particularly after your demise, your best bet is to put those specific instructions down in a Will. You can even specify the particular group or person that you desire to help in your Will.
f. The persons that you wish are in charge of your instructions can begin to carry out those instructions faster when you make a Will.
Having considered the advantages of writing a WILL, it would be important to also consider the factors that will make your Will to be valid- because it will be unfair to wish to have a Will only for the Will to become nullified at the end of the day.
One of the key factors to be considered is that the person intending to make a Will must be of sound mind. This means that as at the time of making the WILL the writer of the Will has the ability to know what he or she is doing, know the extent of his or her properties, manner in which his/her properties are to be distributed, recollect the object of his/her bounties etc.
However, some diseases such as Alzheimer’s may prevent a person from remembering immediate family members and friends. The moment there is a doubt that the maker of the Will was not of sound mind as at the time of making the Will, then the Will becomes invalid.
Another requirement for the validity of a WILL is that the maker must be 18 years and above, hence it is only at that age and above that a person can validly write a Will. Although there are instances where someone that is below 18 years can do a Will, but we might not consider them because they fall outside the purport of this write up.
Once all the requirements are met, you can have your WILL prepared under the thorough supervision of your lawyer.
Please note that you can amend your Will as many times as you desire to.
Finally, a WILL is necessary for all, to ensure that we are able to decide all our wishes for ourselves and our loves ones even after we are no more. I would encourage us, that no one is too young or too old to have a Will.
For questions or contributions, you can reach me on 08064407638 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org