WHAT ARE THE PROCEDURES FOR MAKING A WILL IN NIGERIA
In accordance to the provision of Will Act 1887, it does not prescribed a specific form in how a will should be and graphic description of a will. Basically, a will should be written and must be making voluntarily. We will explain a witness to a will, an executor to a will and signing of a will. All these are the basic procedure and modus that should be carefully noted when writing a will.
WHO CAN BE A WITNESS?
As part of the Wills Act, witnesses are necessary to ensure the document becomes official and legally binding. Without witnesses, your Will is simply an ‘official looking’ document. Selecting your witnesses is an important step in the process. Most states require that witnesses be “disinterested”. In other words, this is someone that does not stand to inherit under the terms of the will. A beneficiary’s spouse may also be disqualified from serving as a witness. If a beneficiary does serve as a witness, the will’s gift to that person could be declared void by a court, but the rest of the will would remain in effect. Each witness must be a legal adult, which usually means 18 or over. The lawyer who drew up a will can also serve as a witness when the will is signed, even if he or she is named as the executor and will profit later from charging fees for the executor’s work.
Finally, keep in mind you need two witnesses present. Ensure you plan and schedule a time for all parties to witness and sign the Will. Witnesses should sign the Will with their signature as well as their full name in print lettering, address, and occupation to ensure easy identification. Remember to date your Will to ensure the most current version of your Will is executed.
Writing a Will is a prudent exercise and a good way to ensure your loved ones are protected. The correct witnesses go even further to protect this important document.
WHO IS AN EXECUTOR?
An executor is someone named in a will, or appointed by the court, and who is given the legal responsibility to take care of a deceased person’s remaining financial obligations. This means taking care of everything from disposing of property to paying bills and taxes. The executor possess the power to give the beneficiaries whatever is left in the estate after the debts, expenses, claims and taxes have been paid. The executor has certain legal and financial powers to manage the estate, including the power to keep or sell property in the estate, to invest cash, and to borrow money.
The executor cannot see the Will before the death of the testator as the Wills do not become public records until after the will is filed with the probate court. Thus, executors have no right to read a will before the testator’s death. Some people opt to write sealed wills, and give only one sealed copy to a lawyer, accountant or other person for safekeeping.
The will should be signed in the presence of your two witnesses and in the spaces provided, you should:
· Date the document (e.g ‘the 15th day of January 2019’);
· Sign your name using your ‘usual’ signature where indicated whilst your witnesses watch;
· Ask your two witnesses to add, in your presence, their ‘usual’ signatures where indicated, asking them to print their names, addresses and occupations clearly for identification purposes.
ALTERATIONS BEFORE SIGNING
Wills can be altered before signing, but the testator, and both witnesses, must sign or initial in the margin or near the alteration. If this is not done, the court will assume that the alteration was made after the will was signed and the alteration will not be effective unless the court waives the formalities. Once a will has been signed there can be no alteration, either by crossing out or writing in new clauses, unless the new clauses are executed in the same manner as a will.
As many believe that a Will did not need any legal expert for perfection of a will, but a means of protection and administration, a legal practitioner will help in assisting in writing a valid will. Anyone can write will, but it is advisable to employ the service of a lawyer for a proper guidance.
WRITTEN BY: CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM
TEL: 08065553671, 08024230080