When Should I Make A Will (Last Testament)?
Many people think about having a Will prepared when they experience some major life step backs such as divorce, the death of a family member or the birth or adoption of a child, these major step backs can be a wake-up call that spurs us to think about what will happen if we die, however, in actual sense, the right term is “when”
Any person who in is an adult, at least above the age of 18 should have a will, nobody prays to die soon, and in the same vain everybody wants to live till they are 90, especially in a place like Nigeria, my own country.
Looking deeply at the culture of things in my country Nigeria, we realize that not everyone within the age range of 21 and above have achieved much, the best could be some school degree, with no property or physical accomplishment worth securing, except in rare circumstances where the person is born from a very wealthy family where they have a lot of funds and assets to toss around.
Major life events may be the catalyst for some people to recognize the need for a last testament, but those life events need not happen before an individual prepares a will, it is needed even before any events occur.
Prior to preparing a will, there are simple questions you should ask yourself before engaging, they include:
Discussing The first step is to Consider the terms you can specify in your Will, such as: 1) Who will receive your property (or conversely, who will not receive your property); 2) Who will handle your estate (The Executors) 3) Who will serve as guardian of your children; 4) Who will arrange your funeral/burial/cremation; and 5) If any individual receiving a portion of your assets is under age eighteen, who will manage those assets. This is a quick list of common questions you could as yourself terms and is by no means
Unless you truly have no concerns about what happens with your property when you die, you should have a Will to specify who receives what. Your Will should also name alternate beneficiaries in case the person(s) you want to receive your property dies before you or at the same time as you. If you are not related to that person, you absolutely need a Will to make him or her the beneficiary of your estate. It should contain Residual Clause
People have wrong perception about succession and Estate, thinking that when they die, their wives and children may authomatically be bequited with their assets and their children, It is only marriage under the act that permits these laws to be applied, but under customary and Islamic laws, the laws are quite different
You might want to do charity works, give to a mosque or a church, or you have an adopted child you want to bequeat some property to, there are laws that govern all these.
Recently & precisely on Friday,17th January,2020, the Supreme court in the case of DELPHINE ZIKERE OKONKWO V AMAKA EZEAKU & ADMINISTRATOR- GENERAL/PUBLIC TRUSTEE,ENUGU STATE reported in (2020)5 NWLR,PT 1718,PG 477-501,
Judgment was delivered regarding the estate of Late MR.JOHN CHUKWUNWEIKE OKONKWO(SAN) popularly referred to as Jonny Okonkwo(SAN) during his practice days. Hee was resident in Enugu from where he practices his law.The kernel of the dispute is his failure to formally divorce his first wife(AMAKA) married under native law & custom(& who begat 1 female child) before contracting another marriage to another woman(DELPHINE)under the native law & custom(& she begat 2 children,A boy & a girl).In otherwards,None of the said wives was married under the marriage Act & the learned silk died intestate in 2005.It is pertinent to note that despite the separation of the late SAN from his first wife since 1988 till his death in 2005,a period over 17 years,the court held that without a formal dissolution of the customary marriage to the first wife according to native law & custom before contracting another still under native law & custom,the first wife is entitled to partake in the sharing of the estate of the late Silk.A certain Affidavit deposed by the late silk acknowledging the Second Wife as his only legitimate wife was considered insufficient as it did not in anyway expropriate the properties of the late Silk to the second Wife.The real lesson to be learned here is the need to ensure expropriation of one’s properties to the right persons during ones lifetime by the necessary legal instruments.
WAS IT REALLY THE SAN’s WISH THAT HIS ESTRANGED WIFE SHOULD BE PART OF HIS INHERITANCE?
The answer is certainly in the negative but an oversight by the late SAN has resulted in this costly quagmire
In Conclusion, these important questions must be asked, do you know what would happen with your property, guardianship of your children and other belongings of yours if you die intestate?
Now is the time to get the answer to that question. None of us know for sure the day of our death, however, let us take the time to get a will and be rest assured of what happens to our assets when we are no more.
Mayowa Emmanuel Olukehinde Esq.