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The Last Will and Testament is a document by which an individual who is called the Testator declares how his/her personal properties should be distributed upon their death. A testator can give anything belonging to him/her to anyone he/she desires.
A testator can use this document to gift all their items and belongings to their family and loved ones to avoid cases of intestacy. Properties that can be bequeathed in a will include all tangible properties such as real estate, company shares, clothing, pieces of jewelry, books, and other material things. Therefore, one importance of a Will is for the testator to determine how their property will be distributed upon their demise.
For a Will to be valid, the following must be present:
How to use this document
This document can be used by any individual who is at least 18 or 21 years of age, as the case may be, and desires to make decisions on how his properties should be distributed and give instructions on what should be done when he/she dies.
The persons receiving the properties in the Will are called the beneficiaries. The Testator is allowed to gift any of his/her properties to whoever he/she so desires.
The Form filler must provide full details of the beneficiaries. This includes the names and addresses of the persons the Testator desires to give any of his/her properties to.
The Testator is also required to give proper details about the property or items he/she is giving to the beneficiaries
An executor is a person appointed in the Will with the responsibility of ensuring that all the wishes of the Testator are carried out.
A Testator can name his/her child, wife or close relatives as executors. Note that a beneficiary can also be an executor but a beneficiary can not be a witness to the Will. Once this happens the beneficiary will lose the gift.
The Form filler should fill out the full names and addresses of the persons the Testator wishes to appoint as executor.
A guardian is a person appointed in the Will with the legal responsibility of taking care of the non adult children (children less than 18 years) of the Testator when the Testator dies. A guardian is charged with the responsibility of acting in the best interest of the child.
When appointing a guardian, a number of factors must be considered, such as the relationship the Testator or child has with the guardians to be appointed, the location of the person, the age of the person etc. The person to be appointed must be a person the Testator trusts and has confidence in. The person appointed as a guardian can take his/her only when all other spouse of the Testator has passed away.
Note that guardians can also be appointed as executors/trustees in the Will.
A Trustee is a person appointed in the Will if a beneficiary is under the age of 18 and has the responsibility of taking care of their inheritance until they have attained the age of 18. It is common for the same person to be appointed as trustee and executor.
If a trust is established under the Will, the trustee becomes responsible for receiving inheritance on behalf of the Trust. The executor will distribute the property to the named trustee, who is responsible for managing this property on behalf of the non adult who is a beneficiary.
When choosing a trustee, the Testator must choose a person whom he/she trusts, considering the responsibilities of the trustee. Usually, Testators appoint at least two trustees. This is because when one of the trustees is unable or unwilling to act, the other trustee can take over.
Here the Form filler is required to clearly describe the properties or items the Testator desires to give in the Will so that there is no doubt as to which property the Testator is referring to. For example: "I give my three bedroom apartment located at No. 56, Brooks road, Ikota, Lagos to my daughter Miss Belindah Nyang."
This is any portion of the Testator's property that is not specifically included in the Will and properties or items remaining after the beneficiaries have taken all that has been given to them in the Will. The Form filler should give details of how the remainder of his/her asset should be distributed.
Here the Form filler may give any direction or instructions the Testator wishes to state in the Will.
After filling this form, it should be printed and the Testator must sign the Will in the presence of the two witnesses. The witnesses will fill their names in the column assigned to them and equally sign the document in the presence of the Testator.
Note that these witnesses can not be beneficiaries or executors in a Will.
After preparing this document, the Testator should keep a copy of the Will with the Probate Registry, High Court and another with his/her lawyer or bank for safe keeping.
The Federal and State Laws are applicable. Wills Act, 1837 is applicable. Also, the Wills Laws of various States are applicable. Under the Wills Act, a Testator must be at least 21 years. While according to the Wills law of various States, like Lagos State, the Testator must be at least 18 years.
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