ORDER OF PRIORITY OF ENTITLEMENT UNDER TESTATE AND INTESTATE SUCCESSION IN NIGERIA

THE ADMINISTRATION OF ESTATE LAWS OF VARIOUS JURISDICTION PROVIDE GUIDANCE ON THE ORDER OF PRIORITY OF PERSONS WHO ARE ENTITLED TO BE GRANTED LETTER OF RIGHT OF ADMINSTRATION

CHAMAN LAW FIRM

5/20/2022 2 min read

ORDER OF PRIORITY OF ENTITLEMENT UNDER TESTATE AND INTESTATE SUCCESSION IN NIGERIA

WHO ARE PERSONS ENTITLED TO LETTER OF ADMINISTRATION ON INTESTATE SUCCESSION?

The Administration of Estates Laws of various jurisdictions provide guidance on the order of priority of persons who are entitled to be granted Letter of Right of Administration. Notably, under the law, the surviving spouse together with the children of the deceased stand at the apex of the hierarchy of the beneficiaries of the wealth of a person who dies without a will. They inherit his estate to the exclusion of every other person.

The entitled persons are regarded as next-of-kin to the deceased. The choice among several next-of-kin follows certain laid down rules and preferences. For instance, lineal descendants rank before lineal ascendants, and the whole blood before half-blood. Where the next-of-kin are of equal ranking and their interest is almost equal, the Court has the power to accept one or more of them subject to suitability.

Section 49(1) of Administration of Estates Law, Lagos State provides the order of priority of persons who could be granted Letters of Administration.

These persons are:

1. Husband and wife of the deceased.

2. Children of the deceased or the surviving issue of a child who died in the lifetime of the deceased.

3. Father or mother of the deceased.

4. Brothers and sisters of the deceased of full blood and the children of such brothers or sisters who died in the lifetime of the deceased.

5. Brothers and sisters of half-blood of the deceased or the children of any such half-brother or sister who died in the lifetime of the deceased.

6. Grandfather or grandmother of the deceased. 7. Uncles and aunts of full blood or their children. 8. Creditors of the deceased. 9. Administrator General, in a situation where all the preceding fail.

WHO ARE PERSONS ENTITLED TO PROBATE ON TESTATE SUCCESSION? In many states of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the order of priority for the grant of probate is set out in the various High Court Civil Procedure Rules [1], which are enumerated as follows:

1. The executor of the Will.

2. A residuary beneficiary holding in trust for other persons.

3. A residuary beneficiary for life (These include people who take the residue/reminder of the estate of the testator after the payment of other legacies specifically listed in the will).

4. A beneficiary whose legacy is vested in interest.

5. The ultimate residuary beneficiary including one entitled on the happening of any contingency. In a situation where the residue is not wholly disposed of by Will, then any person entitled to share in the residue not so disposed of, or the personal representative of any such person.

6. Any beneficiary of a specific legacy or devise or any creditor or the personal representative of any such specific beneficiary or any creditor.

7. Any beneficiary of specific legacy or devise entitled on the happening of any contingent, or any person having no interest under the Will who would have been entitled to a grant if the deceased had died wholly intestate.

It is worthy to note that when granting administration, the court pays regard to the rights of all persons interested in the estate of the deceased person or the proceeds of sale and in particular, administration with the will annexed may be granted to a devisee or legatee and any such administration may be limited in any way the court thinks fit [2].

[1] Order 64, Rule 15(1) of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja (Civil Procedure Rules) 2018. Also, Order 58 Rule 23 High Court of Lagos State, 2012.

[2] Section 26(1) Administration of Estates Law Lagos State.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

WRITTEN BY: CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

E-MAIL: chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

Tel: 08065553671, 08024230080