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Many Nigerians have a misconceived
impression about making Wills. When asked if he/she has a will, their ready
response is usually “do you wish me dead, why do I need a will?”.
Such statements are actually proof of ignorance, as preparing a will does not
in any way add or remove a day from anyone’s life.

Others however have many questions about
wills and their validity usually because they may currently be beneficiaries in
a will or are contesting the provisions of a will in court. This article aims
to shed more light on Wills in general.
A WILL simply helps a person to determine
what happens to his properties after his death; it also helps him to give any
instructions he may wish to be carried out if he is no longer alive.
In preparing a will, a testator (person
making his will) must have capacity to do so, meaning he must be of legal age
(above 18yrs) and have mental capacity (he must be of sound mind). Furthermore,
for a will to be valid it must be;
1. In writing. (either typed or hand
written)
2. Signed by the testator, and
3. The signature of the testator must be
acknowledged by at least 2 witnesses (please note, it is advised that a
beneficiary to a will must not act as a witness to the will).
In probate courts today, there are many
parties in legal battles contesting the provisions of a will, the court is
likely to set aside a will if there is conclusive proof that the testator did
not have the mental capacity to understand what he was doing at the time the
will was made or if the testator was unduly influenced to dispose of his
properties as he did in the will.
  A person who dies without
making a will is described as a person who died intestate, in such situations,
certain members of the family shall apply to the probate registry of
the High Court to be granted letters of administration of the deceased’s
estate.
Upon the grant of Probate or Letters of
Administration, the executors or administrators, as the case may be are legally
and formally empowered to deal with or distribute the properties of the
deceased among the beneficiaries.

Solicitor/Counsel at Adeolu Adesuyi &
Co.

Ed’s Note – This article was first
published here