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Tuesday, 1 October 2019

ESTATE PLANNING: How to Prepare a Good WILL and Last Testament

Will is a legal document in which a person (testator) voluntarily declares how he desires his properties to be handled and finally distributed, once he dies. Through a Will, a testator appoints his hires and person (executor) who will execute his desires.  This is a must document for estate planning while you are living, here you will find how you can prepare your will and simple of a will.

Live rich, die poor.

 Will is a legal document in which a person (testator) voluntarily declares how he desires his properties to be handled and finally distributed, once he dies. Through a Will, a testator appoints his hires and person (executor) who will execute his desires.  This is a must document for estate planning while you are living, here you will find how you can prepare a good  Will for a proper administration of your estate.

How to Prepare a Will

Forms of Will

Generally, there are two forms of Will; i.e Oral Will and Written Will. However, a Written Will is a Will that appears to be appropriate because it is simple to prove its existence. Forms and contents of the Will are always affected by statutory laws (Statutory Will), religions (Islamic wills) and customs (customary Wills) of a certain locality. Therefore before writing your Will, you must put into consideration relevant statutes, your religion and custom apply in your life. One may wish to prepare a statutory will, an Islamic will or a customary will.

Characteristic of the Will

  •  It operates only as a declaration of intention.
  • It is revocable i.e you can cancel your Will at any time before death.
  •  It takes effect after the death of the testator.
  • Will is ambulatory in Nature this means it is capable of dealing with the property acquired after the date when it was made, provided, and that is, to mean that the property is owned by the testator until his death.

Requirements / Validity of the Will

Will, statutory, Islamic or customary, may only be valid and executed when it meets some requirements. The following are the important requirements regardless of the nature of the will.
  • The testator must be of full age (not child).
  • The testator must be of sound mind at the time he makes a Will.
  • It must be written unless it is an Oral Will.
  •  It must be free from ambiguity.
  •  It must be voluntarily made. A Will, will not be accepted if it was made under force, fraud, mistake or and other influences.
  •  It must be witnessed; in case of statutory Will at least two witnesses.
  • It must be signed by the maker in the presence of the witness who will also sign.

NB: if the Will does meet those conditions will be considered as defective and invalid will.

Things to Consider When Drafting your Will

  • Use Proper terminology

Your will must be shown that it was voluntarily made by you. You must use proper terminology to express your wishes. Example use REVOKE to revoke all previous testamentary dispositions if that is your intention; APPOINT which deals with the appointment of executors and trustees; I BEQUEATH which sets out any gifts of specific articles which you wish to make, and GIVE, DEVISE BEQUEATH AND APPOINT which deals with any remaining property you may have to dispose of

  •  Must be Properly presented  

Your Will should be laid out in paragraphs numbered in sequence after a first paragraph which confirms the nature of the document (will or codicil) and states your name, address, and occupation or, if you are a woman without an occupation, your status (married woman, widow, etc.). The first words of each paragraph should be in block capitals and underlined. All names should be set out in full, in capitals and underlined.

  • List all of  your properties

For the better estate planning, here you must write a list of anything of value. It may include personal assets including houses, land, shares, bonds, vehicles, jewels, all kinds of bank accounts, antiques.  Appraise the value of all your assets, so you have an idea of your net worth. This is important in a country that has an inheritance tax or estate duty/estate tax.

  • Appoint Executor

An executor is a person to whom the power of implementing your desires is vested. You may choose one or more persons. Also, you must consider stating the alternate executor in case the one you choose is unable or unwilling to serve that position. You may state the amount which will be paid to the executor for what he will do. Usually, it is wise to have two executors who you can trust, are honest and are capable of executing your Will consider obtaining their concern before finalizing your will. Further, you may appoint the guardian of your children if you have a child or children below the age of 18.

  •  Select Beneficiary and allocate their shares

In your Will, you must include your entire beneficiary. These are people who would benefit from your assets. Usually, they are family, relatives and/or friends, but it may include charity organization and others. You must specifically decide on the share and assets allocation of every beneficiary. To prevent quarrel you may include reasons for your decisions or allocations 

  • Funeral issues

When necessary you may include a clause on where and how you should be buried.

NB: to make sure your Will comply with all requirements, consider hiring a lawyer to help you draft it.

Post Writing Issues

After writing your will you should do the following

Decide Where to Keep Your Will

It is worth noting that your Will can only be executed once found. Make sure you keep your will at an easily accessible place/location but your executor or your loved ones. You can consider keeping your will at your attorney Firm, Bank safe locker or home safe locker or register it at relevant authority.

Advantages of Having a Will

  • To Distribute Your Properties (Both Current And Future) As You Wish

With a Will, you can direct where and how your properties will be distributed after your death. For Example, you may wish to distribute some of your properties to charity organizations. If you died intestate (without a Will) your properties would be distributed against your wishes.

  • To Voluntarily Choose a Good Executor

With a Will, you can choose the person to administer your estate and distribute it according to your instructions but if you die without a Will that person will be chosen on your behalf.

  • Choose A Guardian of Your Children

Through a will, you can appoint who will take care of your children in case you and their other Parents both passed away.

  • With Will, you live rich, and you die poor 

Will allows you to distribute all your property while you’re living although that distribution will take effect once you die. Proper allocation of your properties minimizes chances of conflicts once you are gone.



1.1  Full Name of Testator
1.2  Age- to determine if a major
1.3  Whether of sound mind
1.4  Address of Testator
1.5  Religion of Testator-may determine what proportion of the property may be disposed by will
1.6  Marital status
1.7  If married, type of marriage i.e customary/civil/religious/polygamous
1.8  If the Testator has any children


2.1  Any property owned solely by Testator e.g houses, land, bank accounts, shares, cars, any other property
2.2  Property owned jointly with another/marital property
2.3  Details of any insurance policies taken out by the Testator and their beneficiaries
2.4  Any businesses owned
2.5  Any debts, liabilities, encumbrances on owned properties


3.1  Spouse: full name
3.2  Children: full names and ages
3.3  Others: names and addresses


4.1  Whether the Testator wants to give any special item to a beneficiary
4.2  Whether the Testator wants to make any gifts to charities/societies
4.3  Who is to receive the rest of the property i.e residual legatee


5.1 Family dynamics so that can make the appropriate choice as to executor(s)
5.2 Names and addresses of executor(s)
5.2 Alternative executor
5.3 Find out if proposed executors will be willing to act as executors


6.1  names and addresses



8.1  full names
8.2  addresses
8.3  age- to determine the capacity
8.4  relationship to Testator- may determine the capacity of witness depending on the law applicable


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