Why Every Nigerian Needs a Will
A will is a legal document that lets you decide what happens with your estate after you die. Yet, according to a recent survey, about 4 in 5 Nigerians don’t have a will.
If you’re among them, you should know that there are many reasons to have a will. When you die without a will, you leave important decisions up to the courts and local administration of estate laws. You won’t have a say in who receives your property and other assets. Plus, not having a will can make it more difficult for your loved ones after you pass.
Here are the top ten reasons you should consider making a will today:
1. Cheaper and less stressful for your loved ones
One of the top reasons to have a will is to streamline this court process. When you have a will, you can choose the person you want to handle your estate, making it easier for your loved ones
Almost all estates have to go to probate court to start the legal process overseeing the distribution of assets. But when you don’t have a will, the court process — known as intestate administration — can get especially complicated. Without a will, the court has to name an administrator to administer your estate. And this can be time-consuming, expensive, and even contentious for your loved ones.
2. Clear and Peaceful Succession
Upon your death, there is often the potential of some conflict between the survivors of your estate for your property. However, if there is a will, your decision about who should get what is very clear and so less likely to be misinterpreted. Your family will want to honour your wishes. As mentioned earlier, if you were to die without a Will, the intestate succession laws of the state will kick in.
3. Determine who will manage your estate
As mentioned above, deciding who will handle your estate is a great reason to have a will. When you write a will, you become a “testator” and have the opportunity to nominate an “executor.” This is the person who will be in charge of wrapping up all your affairs.
By making a will, you get to determine who in particular is saddled with the responsibility of carrying out your instructions, you get to pick someone you trust to do your bidding, someone who you can vouch for both his her integrity, loyalty, intelligence and initiative, this is because in your will there might be stipulations of how the estate should be managed or the expected profits from your estate if managed properly which should accrue to your beneficiaries at will, but this will never happen if the estate is managed poorly.
Being an executor is an important job. Their responsibilities may include everything from closing bank accounts to liquidating assets. So you should choose someone who is capable and who you trust to carry out these activities. If you don’t choose an executor in your will, the court will pick one for you — and it may not be the person you’d want.
4. Decide how your property is divided
Most people know that a will lets them decide who will get their property. As the testator, you can name people as beneficiaries for specific assets. You can also name beneficiaries for any property that you don’t list — the “residuary” of your estate. When your executor handles your will, they’ll be in charge of distributing these assets.
You might not be aware that you can also use a will to help ensure that some people don’t receive anything. A will allows you to particularly exclude or disinherit a person from benefiting from your estate or property, such people could include estranged spouses, disowned off-springs, troublesome siblings etc.
5. Choose who will take care of your minor children
If you’re a parent, you can use your will to nominate a guardian for your minor children. The surviving parent will usually get sole legal custody if one parent dies. But if both parents pass, this is one of the most important reasons to have a will.
A guardian will be responsible for all your children’s daily needs, including food, housing, health care, education, and clothing. And if you don’t nominate a guardian in your will, a court will have to choose one for you. This could mean that someone you would not have chosen will be raising your kids.
6. Tax Liability Reduction
Making a will can help reduce the level or amount of tax liability on your estate which in consequence means that the amount of estate your successors will inherit will be larger. One way that a will aids in the reduction of tax liability is in the making of gifts and donations especially to charity or charitable organizations. Most tax laws provide for tax reliefs or exemptions upon donations of up to a certain reasonable amount.
7. Leave instructions for your digital assets.
Your digital assets may include online accounts, such as Facebook or email, and digital files or property. This will also include crypto-currency, Non-fungible tokens etc. In your will, you can name a digital executor to manage these assets after you pass. You can leave them to specific people, and also include information on how you want them handled
8. Support your favorite causes and leave a legacy.
Many people want to leave a positive impact on the world after they pass. And a great way to do this is to support the religious organisations, charities or causes you love most. When you write a will, you can preserve your legacy by leaving a part of your estate to a charitable organization.
9. Provide funeral instructions.
You may not want to think about your own funeral. But if you do think about it now, and leave instructions with your will, you can lessen the burden on your loved ones after you pass. While these instructions aren’t legally binding, they can give your executors and loved ones some guidance on your wishes.
When you include instructions, you can name a funeral executor to manage the process, give suggestions for the service and location, make requests for your final resting place, and more.
10. It’s not expensive
The final reason is the cost – a Will is not expensive to make. A lot of people decide not to write a will because they think it is really expensive.
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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. It is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.