A valid Will enables an individual initiate the process of planning their estate while they are alive and even when they die.
Our experience in legal practice has been deceased’s relatives turning up with a Will that was not signed or witnessed; some instances without executors or witnesses mentioned or the executors, witnesses and beneficiaries being one and the same which can cause conflicts and make the Will invalid.
There is no specific format which a Will must adopt, however, a testator must endeavour to have the following contained in his/her Will:
- All the names, full address and age of the testator.
- Spouse’s full names (If married)
- Children, their full names, and ages (if any)
- Dependants, full names, and ages (both minors and adult dependants)
- Executors (Two or more trusted individuals to execute your will)
- List of your properties i.e. land, buildings, bank accounts, shareholding, vehicles, personal effects. These must be described with as much accuracy as possible. If any of the properties is co-owned, it should be mentioned and in what percentage.
- Specific Legacies i.e. what would you like to give to whom. Note that land that is in Joint Tenancy cannot be bequeathed to someone else if your joint tenant is alive, they have a right of survivorship upon your death.
- Matrimonial Home and how you want it treated (if married)
- Customary Heir and if there are any detailed responsibility you need them to perform or are, they just a figurehead.
- Debtors and other Obligations
- Burial and Funeral arrangement.
- Details of other matters you want addressed
- Witnesses to the Will, atleast two (2) or more persons who should not be the executors or beneficiaries to the will, their professions, addresses and phone contacts
- How you would like to treat property acquired after making of the will.
- Where or with whom you would like to keep the different copies of the will.
A valid will enables your loved ones know all your properties, investments and creditors which may or may not be known to them thus avoiding loss of property you worked hard for while alive.
Lastly, where an Executor has been named ensures a trusted person distributes your property thus preventing mismanagement of your estate.