IMPORTANCE OF WRITING A WILL
In this part of the world, a lot of people have refused to embrace the importance of writing a will.
As a lawyer, advicing a client to write a will is very hard, some see it as you wishing them dead, some see it as a bad omen, while some say writing a will is only for the rich.
The truth is that none of these are true. Death is an inevitable debt every human being has to pay.
What is a Will?
A will is a testamentary document made voluntarily and lawfully executed according to the wills law by a person called the testator with a sound disposing mind on how his Estate will be disposed upon his death.
In otherworld, a will is a directive of a person on how his things or his properties will be disposed of, managed or used upon his death.
From the definition, not everyone can make a valid will, eg a minor or a person of unsound mind cannot make a valid will.
There are several importance of making a will and they include;
- Peace of mind for the Testator considering the fact that his loved ones will be catered for after his death.
- Serves as documentary evidence.
- Testator gives directives as to the disposition of his properties.
- Display of the wishes of the Testator.
- Helps reduce friction and strife among beneficiaries.
- It helps to reduce Litigation.
- Writing a will helps displace/limit the application of customary rules of inheritance.
It is also important to note that not every will is valid.
On this note, we will state the features of a valid will;
- It must be in a prescribed form ie must be in writing.
- It must be testamentary ie, had to come to effect upon the death of the Testator.
- It must be made by a person who has the legal capacity to make a will.
- It must be made voluntarily.
- Should be made of dispositions, but can con contain non disposition provision. Eg, statement as to the General welfare of the family.
- A valid will must have 2 witnesses who must be present at the same time and in the presence of the maker.
In the case of APATIRA V. AKANKE (1944) 17 NLR 149, the testator though a Muslim made a written will but only one witness attested to it, the Court held that though a Muslim, he intended to make a will under the Act but since only one witness was present, the will qas not valid.
It is worthy to Note that the witnesses cannot be beneficiaries to the will, therefore, any gift given to them is Null and void.
- It must be signed by the maker or anybody appointed by the maker of the will in his/her presence and by his directives.