Types of Will in Nigeria
The most crucial part of life is planning for the future, and it is crucial to preserve your possessions and wishes. In Nigeria, various types of will serve different purposes, and it’s crucial to have an explicit understanding of each one. Whether you’re a legal professional, an individual looking to create a will, or simply curious about the subject, this guide will provide you with all the vital information, thus empowering you to make informed decisions about your mapping out your will for property.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A WILL
In a will or testament, a person specifies how their property and possessions will be dispersed after death. In Nigeria, it is a golden lotto to peace of mind knowing fully well that after your death or when you are physically or mentally impaired, your properties will be shared just as you intended. Hence, by clearly stating your intentions in a legally binding document, you can reduce the likelihood of disagreements and ensure a smoother transition of your properties. Now, let’s explore the various types of wills in Nigeria.
TYPES OF WILLS IN NIGERIA
Here are the various types of wills for property that is available in the country.
The most typical kind of will in Nigeria is the formal will, usually referred to as a written will. It is a written document that is normally drafted by a lawyer and signed by the testator (the individual who creates the will) and two witnesses. To be valid, the formal will must to adhere to a number of legal conditions. These prerequisites include that the testator be of sound mind, that the will be in writing, and that the testator’s signature and that of any witnesses be witnessed. The written will gives the testator the opportunity to name an executor to manage the estate, define how their assets should be dispersed, and, among other things, make provisions for guardianship of minor children.
A completely handwritten will that has the testator’s signature is known as a holographic will. It is legitimate even without witnesses. The holographic will can be a choice for people who are unable or reluctant to have a formal will created, even if the formal will is more frequently used and advised due to its legal requirements and safeguards. Holographic wills are subject to closer inspection, and they might be more vulnerable to objections or disagreements, so it’s vital to keep that in mind.
A vocal declaration made by the testator in front of witnesses is referred to as an oral will or a nuncupative will. Oral wills are acknowledged by the law in Nigeria, however there are restrictions. The testator must reduce the oral will to paper within a set amount of time after declaring it, and it can only be used in certain situations, such as when the testator’s life is in jeopardy. Oral wills are regarded as being less secure and more prone to objections and disagreements.
Just like the name implies, this is a type of will in which two testators execute the same testament by which they will issue their personal or joint properties. The testators are often spouses, friends, or business partners. This will is unique in the sense that it is not flexible because the death of one testator will not nullify the agreement signed.
Only in cases where a person’s mental capacity or substantial physical infirmity prevents him from understanding his situation does this form of will serve as a direction. It is used to imply the type of treatment one has determined to receive or forgo, probably in a specific situation. Upon the testator’s passing, this kind of will is not enforceable and the testator cannot transfer property to beneficiaries using it.
Now that we have discussed the varieties of wills in Nigeria, let’s explore the legal requirements for creating a will in more detail.
LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR CREATING A WILL IN NIGERIA
Creating a valid will in Nigeria requires adherence to certain legal requirements. These essentials are in place to ensure that the testator’s intentions are clear and that the will is not subject to fraud or coercion. Here are some of the key legal requirements for creating a will in Nigeria:
- Testamentary Capacity: The testator must be of sound mind and at least 18 years old. They must understand the nature and consequences of making a will and be able to make rational decisions.
- Writing: The will must be in writing, either typed or handwritten. An oral will is not sufficient.
- Signature: At least two witnesses must see the testator’s signature on the will in order for it to be valid.
- Witnesses: The witnesses must be present at the same time as the testator and each other. They must be of sound mind, at least 18 years old, and not beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries under the will.
- Revocation: A subsequent will can revoke A will or by the intentional destruction of the will by the testator.
It is important to note that failure to comply with these legal requirements may result in the will be declared invalid. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with a lawyer to ensure that your will meet all the integral legal requirements.
HOW TO CREATE A VALID WILL IN NIGERIA
To create a valid will in Nigeria, it is advisable to follow these steps:
- Seek Legal Advice: Consult with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning and wills. They can guide you through the process, ensure legal compliance, and help you make informed decisions.
- Gather Information: Prepare a comprehensive list of your assets, including properties, bank accounts, investments, and belongings. Consider who you would like to designate as beneficiaries and executors.
- Draft the Will: Work with your lawyer to draft the will, ensuring that it reflects your wishes and meets all the essential legal requirements.
- Sign the Will: Sign the will in the presence of at least two witnesses who are also required to sign the will. Inspect each signature to make sure it complies with the law and is completed accurately.
- Store the Will Safely: Keep a copy of the will that is the original in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box at the bank or with a reliable person. Inform your loved ones and executors about the existence and location of the will.
Remember, it is important to review and update your will periodically, especially after major life events such as marriage, divorce, birth, or death of beneficiaries or executors. Now, let’s address some common misconceptions about wills for property in Nigeria.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT WILLS IN NIGERIA
- In Nigeria, do I require legal counsel to draft a will? Although it is not required, consulting a lawyer is strongly advised if you want to be sure that your will is executable and complies with all applicable laws.
- Can I change my will after it is created? Yes, you can update and revise your will as needed. It is important to review your will periodically to reflect on any changes in your circumstances or wishes.
- Can I disinherit someone in my will? In Nigeria, there are legal provisions that protect certain individuals, such as spouses and children, from being completely disinherited. It is advisable to consult with a lawyer to understand the legal implications and potential challenges of disinheriting someone.
- Can a will be contested in Nigeria? Yes, a will can be contested in Nigeria if there are valid grounds, such as lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, or fraud. However, having a properly drafted will with the support of a lawyer can help minimize the likelihood of successful challenges.
- Can I create a will for my digital assets? Yes, with the increasing prevalence of digital assets, it is important to consider including provisions for them in your will. Consult with a lawyer to ensure that your will adequately address your digital assets.
Understanding the types of wills in Nigeria is crucial for effective property planning. Whether you choose a formal will, holographic will, or oral will, it is important to ensure legal compliance and consider the advantages and disadvantages of each type. By following the legal requirements, seeking professional advice, and regularly reviewing your will, you can have peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be respected and your loved ones will be taken care of.