A Will is the last communication a person makes before his/her death directing how their property and other affairs will be taken care of and by whom.
Death is inevitable, we cannot avoid it and so it is important to make a Will while we are alive to specify all the property we own, how we want it divided between those closest to us, organisations where we want to make a difference and to make sure orphans, widows and widowers are not denied a chance to benefit by cruel relatives.
How do you make a valid Will?
When you make a will, you are called a Testator.
A testator must be 18years of age and above.
You make an ordinary will in writing unless you are a soldier or mariner who make privileged Wills that are not necessarily in writing.
Your Will must be dated, signed on each page and witnessed by at least 2 witnesses.
The witnesses should not be given any of your property neither should they read the contents of your will. They should sign after you have signed.
Indicate how many pages are contained in your will and initial/sign on each page.
Seal the Will in an envelope and keep copies with different people namely your lawyer, best friend or Bank.
You always have the option of changing your Will.
If you made a Will when you were single, the law requires that you make another when you marry or get married. This is called a codicil; an addition to the Will.
A will maybe changed by writing another or parts of the earlier. If you make two or more wills, only the last one is valid.
You may also make changes in your existing Will by altering a section. Sign and have the changes witnessed.
What if you do not leave a Will?
If you do not leave a Will or if court declares that your will is not valid, then you do not have a choice how your property is divided. This is called dying intestate.
Only court has power to declare who should divide up your property. It’s against the law for anyone to do so without a declaration of court.
The only persons allowed to share in your property under these circumstances are:
Your husband or wife, your children, your dependant relative who solely depended on you, your customary heir and your legal heir.
A matrimonial home is never distributed. The spouse who remains alive may stay in the home until they voluntarily leave or die. Then the home is passed on to the legal heir.
Minor children are required to stay in the home until they attain the age of majority of 18years.
In conclusion, a Will does not guarantee that people will not attempt to steal your property upon death, but it will spell out how you want the property to be managed and by whom, it will further enable you bequeath your property to different beneficiaries and charities.
Furthermore, while you are still alive, your Will enables you track your investments, business transactions, debtors, creditors and charities where you are making a difference in the world.