There are individuals who have contributed immensely to making the world a better place, some of whom even after death we cannot forget their impact. One of such is a wonderful female scientist, Marie Curie who discovered radium, polonium and made huge contribution to the fight against cancer in her life time.
We live in a largely chauvinistic society but one thing that is common to all human being on the planet earth no matter the gender, skin colour, nationality or economic status is death.
In this part of the world, people are very sensitive to the subject of death. Most people from the South of the Sahara find it quite unsuitable to prepare for death or even discuss the subject matter of death but it is a phenomenon that is central to all of us. Some have prepared ahead for years but are still living while some others who didn’t prepare at all have passed on to eternal rest.
No matter the age or status in life, it is very important for each and every one of us to have a will.
A will is “a legally enforceable declaration of how a person (called Testator) wants his/ her property and or assets to be distributed after death”.
A will speaks after the death of the Testator; it allows his/her property to be expressly devolved according to the wishes & directives of the Testator.
There are different types of will and some of the well known ones are:
a.) STATUTORY WILL
These are wills that are made in accordance with the requirement of certain statutes; e.g. Armed Forces Act Cap. 420 L.F.N 2004 for members of the Armed Forces.
b.) HOLOGRAPHIC WILL
A will written with the hands of the Testator that is usually not witnessed.
c.) PRIVILEDGED WILL
This category of will is specifically made for people in special circumstances, i.e. a sea man at sea or a crew in a commercial airline. Armed combatants are not allowed to benefit from this will.
d.) MUTUAL OR RECIPROCAL WILL
This is made by two or more persons who make provisions for each other that their properties be distributed in a particular way. It’s an option that is usually common amongst husband & wife who agree to leave their properties to an agreed third party (usually their children). This type is not revocable.
e.) NUNCUPATIVE WILL
This is an oral directive of a deceased person on how those living should share his/her properties.
f.) FORMAL WILL
This is the type of will that is recognised under the Nigerian law. This type of will has basic requirements that must be followed, some of such includes:
1.) It must be in writing
2.) It must be signed by the Testator
3.) It must be attested by witnesses
Under the Wills Law of the various States in Nigeria, witnesses to a will are not allowed to be beneficiaries of such a will.
For those who are illiterates or blind, there are specific requirements their lawyer must follow to make their Will valid in the eyes of the law.
Wills can be revoked or amended. Wills can be modified or updated when new properties are added to the testator’s kitty.
A Lawyer knows how to make your will valid in the eyes of the law and how to keep it safe until when it is required either for amendment, revocation or execution.
When Wills are made by professionals, the possibility of such to be successfully challenged in the law court is very slim.
When someone dies intestate (without a will), the properties may be distributed through customary practices or Islamic law depending on the lifestyle of the deceased.
A will that is not valid in the eye of the law is the same as not making a will at all. Only a Lawyer can help get a valid will that will be in accordance with the laws of the land.