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Can An Inheritance Under A “will” Be Rejected

Can An Inheritance Under A “will” Be Rejected? Daily Law Tips (Tip 563) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

For whatever reason or no reason, a person may wish to refuse and reject an inheritance assigned (bequeathed) to him. You can not force a gift on a person and a gift is not complete unless it is accepted.

An Inheritance is a gift, it is a testamentary gift (gift made known and available to the recipient/donee after the death of the maker/giver/donor). Inheritance (testamentary gift) is the opposite of “gift inter vivos” (gift made and accepted during the life time of both the maker and his receiver). Gift inter vivos is the legal jargon (term) for the normal/regular gifts we receive from our living colleagues, fans, friends and families, and for sure, it can also be refused and rejected without a reason.

Below are the golden words of the highest court on Nigeria (the Supreme Court of Nigeria) on this issue;

“We are aware that a beneficiary may for some personal reason refuse to accept the property devised or bequeathed to him by Will. The reasons for doing this are numerous and we do not propose to catalogue them here. Whatever his reasons may be, even if he has no reason at all, nothing precludes a person from renouncing a testamentary gift. A renounced testamentary gift is distributed in accordance with the Rules of Intestate succession.”

Per GEORGE SODEINDE SOWEMIMO ,J.S.C ( P. 15, paras. D-E ).


1. The Supreme Court’s decision (on effect of “Acceptance” to a gift) in the case of ANYAEGBUNAM v. OSAKA & ORS (2000) LPELR-508(SC)

2. The Supreme Court’s decision (on whether a gift can be rejected) in the case of EBOSIE v. PHIL-EBOSIE & ORS (1976) LPELR-994(SC)

3. The Court of Appeal’s decision (on meaning, nature and effect of gift inter vivos) in the case of ABAH v. OGBE (2012) LPELR-14842(CA)










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