I remember that day like yesterday; I was fresh out of law school and was staying at my older brothers’ for a while until I could get my own place. I stood at the entrance to his study and watched him work on some projects. He was a trained architect and was doing really well. He had a lovely wife and five children.
‘Have you written your will?’ I asked as I stood at the doorway.
He looked up with a frown. He probably wondered where that was coming from. His pen dropped from his hands as he turned to face me.
‘Why are you asking Isoken?’ he tried to read my face.
‘I’m just asking brother because it’s vital to have one ’, I said. He threw back his head and laughed.
‘you think I will die soon?’ he asked.
‘Ahhh,nooooo’ I quickly raised my hands to show I had no such thought.
‘Is it the law that you studied that is making you have ideas?’ he sounded offended.
I quickly apologized and left.
Most people in Nigeria associate having a will with dying. They think by not writing a will they’ll live longer. Even educated ones like my brother above whose mistake cost his family a lot of heartache. Ten years later my brother passed on after a terrible time of illness. His wife had been a full time housewife as he wanted her to take care of the home entirely.
We found that he had no will and also that he had fathered two children with another woman. The tussle was a long one as uncles and aunties wanted a piece of his estate. We ended up in court as to how his property should be shared seeing he died intestate (i.e without a will) and also the status of the children he bore outside the marriage. it was a tiring process and the truth is everyone was sore for it at the end of the day.
So what is a will? Simply put, it is the expression of the last wishes of the testator. It could be a written document or an oral instruction given to witnesses by the testator. The written document is more popular basically because it is easily used as evidence in court in case of a contest to a will. In plain terms, a will tells how the testator wants their remains to be handled and also their personal property.
Writing a will is a proactive measure. It’s about seeing ahead and taking action. It does not cause death and it does not mean death is near. Widows have suffered injustice; orphans have been oppressed just because a will was not written by their breadwinner.
Talk to a lawyer today and get it done. You may send an email to me at email@example.com for more questions.