Will You Make A ‘will’?

By Edikan Ekanem

It was a gloomy Monday for the family of Mr Clinton George, as their breadwinner kicked the bucket. Mr Clinton died in a fatal motor accident on his way from Namdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. Until his death, he was a successful business man from Kogi State but resided with his family in Abuja.

Sadly, he left behind his lovely wife and 3 children, aged parents and in-laws who are directly affected by his death. What a loss! The family lost a father, friend, breadwinner, and the nucleus of their peace and unity.

Worse than the above is the fact that safe haven Mr Clinton created with years is destroyed, scattered and battered in days. The family, from nuclear to extended, has turn into a battlefield. Peace receives a befitting burial before the deceased, love and respect are in exile and unity gone extinct all in the quest to have a share of the wealth he left behind.

Alas! Life in the family now revolve around physical combats, quarrels, threats and conspiracies of evil. A onetime united and calm family is torn apart and its peace punctured beyond imagination. Onlookers weep and wish hands of time could be turned buts it’s a stillborn dream.

Mr Clinton never envisaged this neither did he bargained for it but here it is happening. Yes, it could be anyone else, time and unforeseen occurrences befall us all.

But one wonders: is there no way these conflicts could have been avoided, minimised and or prevented? There is. Mr Clinton could have simply made a will in his lifetime. Fittingly, this concise but pointed article will expound on what a will is and the benefits of having one.

For the purposes of this work, I adopt the definition of Dr Kole Aboyomi in his book “Wills: Law and Practice”. He defines Will as a “testamentary and revocable document, voluntarily made, executed and witnessed according to law by a testator with sound disposing mind wherein he disposes of his property subject to any limitation imposed by law and wherein he gives such other directives as he may deem fit to his personal representatives otherwise known as his executors, who administer his estate in accordance with the wishes manifested in the will”.

From the above, a Will must be voluntary made in a person’s lifetime; the individual must be sound in mind; a will must be executed according to law; ambulatory in nature and is revocable during the lifetime of the testator (maker of the Will).

It should also be borne in mind that there are different types of Will. Most times, Individual’s capacity and status in life to a great extent do determine the type of Will suitable for him to make.

The benefits of making a Will include but not limited to the following:

Making a Will avoid the problem of intestacy: Where there is no Will, the estate of the deceased will be governed by the rules of intestacy. Put it differently, the testator decides how his estate will be distributed upon his death in the Will, with less or no fight and conflict at all.

Making a Will gives the testator a choice of appointing his personal representatives (executors) to administer his estate. By this, he can choose persons whom he trust to carry out his wishes after his death.

A Will allows a person to make an informed decision, by selecting and appointing guardian who should take care of his minor children if he so desires.

The testator has the opportunity to make a positive display or demonstration of his wishes and desires. He does this by choosing who he include as beneficiaries, ipso facto showing affection to those he loves, rewarding the loyalty of others who served him well or vice versa.

Making a Will gives the testator peace of mind because he has wound up his affairs and hopes his wishes would be carried out after he is no more.

Making a Will is cost effective, minimises estate taxes and avoid greater legal challenges.

These and many more are the benefits and advantages of making a will. If Mr Clinton of the above fictitious scenario made a will, most of the negative aftermaths would have been prevented and eschewed.

In a nutshell, the survival instinct of a man transcends his terrestrial journey. By the instrumentality of making a Will, a man is elevated to the status of life in a double world having been conferred by statutes with the impetus of speaking from the dead and the freedom to dispose of his property as his heart desires.

Will you make a Will today?
Brethren, no one prays for untimely death and making a Will does not bring it but death is however an inevitable phenomena. Thus, become an ambassador of peace to your future generation today, make a Will for yourself today for no one knows tomorrow.

However, making a Will is one thing but the Will passing the legal validity test, having all the essential elements, which failure to comply with vitiates it, is yet another thing. Why not take a bold step of consulting a lawyer today?

Remember, a stich in time saves nine and wisdom is profitable for the direct.

Edikan Ekanem is an Abuja based Legal Practitioner and a Columnist. He can be reached via 08130015006 or [email protected] .