Who Is Afraid Of Writing His/Her Will?

Before I bear my mind on this issue, let me quickly define some key terms for you so that you can follow me without any difficulty.

1. WILL - it is a document written by a person called testator or testatrix where the person states how his or her property should be shared after death among his/her chosen beneficiaries.
2. TESTATOR/TESTATRIX - this is the person who writes a Will before death. If the person is a man, he's called testator and testatrix, if a woman.

3. EXECUTOR/TRUSTEE - executor is a person or a corporate body that is appointed in a Will by a testator/testatrix to administer the Will after the latter's death. Trustee, on the other hand, is a person or corporate body that is appointed in a Will to hold property in trust where some beneficiaries under that Will are underage children, i.e below 18 years of age. Every Will must have a minimum of two executors and maximum of four.
4. TESTACY - this refers to a condition of a person who leaves a Will behind. It is usually said that such a person dies testate.
5. INTESTACY - this is just the opposite of TESTACY. If a person dies without leaving a Will, it's said that the person dies intestate.
6. LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION - this is a document usually collected from a section of the State High Court known as the Probate Registry or a government department in the State Ministry of Justice known as the Office of the Administrator General and Public Trustee. This letter is only relevant if a deceased person does not leave a Will behind or if some assets of the deceased person are not covered by the Will.
7. TESTAMENTARY CAPACITY - this refers to the mental state of a person to write his/her Will. Every Will written must be a voluntary and willing act of the writer. This means that a person who suffers from mental disability or a person who is forced or coerced or under unduly influenced cannot write a valid Will.
8. AMBULATORY - a Will is said to be ambulatory because its writer can cancel it or amend it as it pleases him or her as long as that person is alive. A Will does not transfer any property in the lifetime of its maker.
9. REAL PROPERTY - property in a Will is usually divided into two classes, that is, real and personal property. Real property comprises such property that is fixed to the ground like houses, mines, factories, and farms. It is also known as immovable property.
10. PERSONAL PROPERTY - this refers to movable property e.g. cars, clothes, books, plaques, money, shares, furniture, electronics, jeweleries, and so on.
11. ESTATE - all the classes of property are jointly referred to as estate.
12. ATTESTATION - this refers to the process of witnessing a Will. A Will must be witnessed by two people. These witnesses need not to know the contents of the Will but they must be made to know that what they are witnessing is a Will.
13. CODICIL - this is a supplementary Will. It is a mini Will which is written to take care of additional assets after one has previously written a Will. This is done in order to prevent writing a whole Will all over again.

NOTE - For the primary purpose of writing this post, the above list is enough but it's not exhaustive of legal terms that have to do with Will. This write-up is DELIBERATELY written for non-lawyers and so, the language is simple, straightforward and cases or statutes are intentionally avoided to aid readers' understanding and facilitate ease of reading. However, cases and statutes may be provided, where necessary and in response to readers' comments or enquiries. It should also be said that this post does not boast to contain all that you may have to know about a Will because the constraints of time and space will certainly not allow me to do that and more so, even as a lawyer of many years of active practice and experience that I am I cannot claim to know everything on Will.

Basic Things That Everyone Must Know About A Will

1. You can write your Will without a lawyer but it is better done by a professional lawyer.
2. It is not expensive to write a Will but more expensive to die intestate (i.e. without a Will).
3. Both males and females can write a Will and so, it's not only meant for men.
4. To write a Will, a person must be up to 18 or 21 years of age. In some States, it's 18, while some put the age at 21.
5. Every State in Nigeria has a Will Law and you must comply with the requirements under the Law for your Will to be valid.
6. Every Will must be in writing. The law does not permit oral Will.
7. If you have assets in many States or outside Nigeria, a Will is enough. Such Will will be resealed in other places.
8. A good Will has the capacity to prevent acrimony and crisis after the writer's death.
9. If a beneficiary is made to witness a Will, that beneficiary loses his/her gift under that Will.
10. It is advisable to seek and obtain consent of executors before appointing them.
11. You don't need to be rich to write a Will. Once you have dependants and some property that some people may be interested in taking over after your death, it's advisable you write a Will.
12. It is not good to wait until sickness comes or very old to write a Will.
13. A beneficiary can be an executor in a Will.
14. A Will only becomes active after the death of the writer, meaning that its maker can tear or do anything with his or her Will while alive.
15. A Will is a good document to protect children and wife or wives.
16. A person who writes a Will has the liberty to give his or her assets to anybody, even to total strangers.
17. A Will must respect traditional customs e.g. igiogbe in Benin, Edo State.
18. A Will cannot be written after a person's death and can also not be written on behalf of another person.
19. You can state where and how to be buried in your Will. The late Gani Fawehinmi did this in his Will.
20. Make sure you keep your Will properly and safely after writing it. Allowing people to know the contents of your Will while alive may be injurious and regrettable. A copy of your Will must be lodged in the Probate Registry.
21. Writing a Will does not bring early death. Late Rotimi Williams SAN wrote his Will in 1954 at 34 years of age and did not die until 2005 at age of 85.
22. You can immortalise yourself through your Will. Alfred Nobel who instituted the Nobel Laurel Prize did that and our Wole Soyinka is a beneficiary of his generosity and foresight.
23. Writing a Will is not against the Christian faith.
24. Writing a Will gives you opportunity to decide who benefits from your hard-earned assets and who does not. But if you don't write your Will, your family members and your customs will decide for you.
25. If you have no Will, the type of marriage you have may help to decide who is entitled to apply for Letters of Administration in respect of your estate.

I think this write-up will be of help to a lot of people. I wish you take due note of all the lessons in the post. Happy day to you!