Wills and Estate Planning.

Reduce and eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize value of your estate. This includes planning for incapacity as well as a process of reducing or eliminating uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximizing the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.

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Estate Planning Generally

Estate planning is the preparation for the distribution and management of a person’s estate in the event of death, through the use of wills, trusts and other arrangements to, amongst other things, reduce administration costs and tax liability.

Put simply, estate planning is the process of structuring the disposition of your current and future assets with a view to maximising their value and providing for your loved ones upon your demise.

Your estate comprises everything you own e.g. land, house, cars, investments, shares etc.

Here are some reasons why you must plan your estate:

Reduction of Taxes

The amount of tax/ duty payable on your estate, upon your demise, will be lower if you had a valid will, as your executor will be in charge of evaluating your estate, which is the basis for assessment.

However, if you did not have a valid will at the time of your demise i.e. you died intestate, the valuation of your estate will be conducted by the state, and this may lead to overvaluation.

Provision for Loved Ones

In the absence of a gift or the creation of a Trust, unmarried partners or other unacknowledged dependants who are not recognised by law may be unable to benefit from your estate in the event of intestacy.

Protection of Assets

Having a comprehensive estate plan ensures that your assets do not end up with the wrong beneficiaries. For instance, where a person dies intestate, an administrator is appointed by the court over his estate, who will then decide how the estate will be managed and distributed.

Prevention of Family Feuds

With the existence of a proper estate plan, you are likely to prevent or minimize the occurrence of family feuds as your wishes with respect to the disposition of your properties will be clear.

Taking proper inventory of your assets

Determination of the beneficiaries of your estate

Determination of what gifts to bequeath/ transfer to your choice beneficiaries

Determination of the appropriate estate planning tool(s)

Determination of who will take charge of your affairs upon your demise

Determination of a guardian/ trustee for your children (if applicable) upon your demise

If you die without leaving in place a proper/ valid estate plan, you will be deemed to have died “intestate”, i.e. without having made a valid will or other binding declaration over your assets. Thus, all your assets will be subject to the laws of intestacy and will be distributed in accordance with state administration laws or customary laws as applicable.

You may plan your estate by utilizing estate planning tools including:

  • Wills
  • Living Trust
  • Gift Inter Vivos


Upon grant of Probate or issuance of a Letter of Administration, an amount equal to 10% (ten percent) of the value of your estate is to be paid to the government of the state where the probate was granted.


The Second Schedule to the Personal Income Tax Act (as amended) makes provision for the assessment of tax arising from the creation of a Trust. Furthermore, the Trustee shall be liable to pay tax on any remainder of the income of the Trust, after all sums have been duly apportioned to the beneficiaries.

Inter Vivos Gifts

With respect to inter vivos gifts, Section 63 of the Stamp Duties Act provides that a conveyance or transfer which operates as a voluntary disposition inter vivos shall be chargeable with such duty as if it were a conveyance or transfer on sale, save for the exceptions provided by law.

Any property or asset which you own in your name or which you intend to distribute to your loved ones can be included in your estate plan.

We strongly advise that you seek professional advice including the services of a lawyer in setting up an estate plan.

The best time to plan your estate is NOW.


A Will is a document which contains your last wishes and by which you, inter alia, direct the manner of distribution of your estate and state which beneficiary should get specific assets/ property.

A will must meet the following conditions in order to be valid:

  • It must be made voluntarily
  • The testator must be of sound mind
  • It must name the beneficiaries
  • It must be in the presence of witnesses
  • It must adequately identify the properties to be bequeathed
  • The witnesses must attest and subscribe to the Will in the presence of the testator
  • It cannot be made by a person under the age of 18 (eighteen) years
  • It must be in writing
  • It must be made and executed voluntarily by the testator, free of any form of duress or other undue influence

Exemptions are granted to seamen, mariners (excluding members of the Nigerian Navy) and crew members of commercial airlines at sea or in the air.

An executor is a person authorised by you in your will to administer your assets upon your death.

Your executor may be a professional, family member or friend. In any event, you should take care in appointing an executor, as such person will be in charge of distributing your assets to the beneficiaries named in your will.

An administrator is a person appointed by the Court through a Letter of Administration. Such persons are appointed for the administration and distribution of the estate of a person who died intestate.

Your Will may be amended at any time during your lifetime by executing a codicil, or by making another Will which will effectively revoke the previously made Will.

Furthermore, a properly drafted Will would usually contain a sweep clause which in effect, secures all your (current and future) assets not specifically mentioned in your Will.

It is imperative that your Will be kept safe. A Will is typically prepared in triplicate. The original is lodged at the Probate Registry. You may keep a copy with your lawyers, or in a safe place.

Wherever you choose to keep copies of your Will, please note that it should be someplace known to and easily accessible by the executor.

Living Trusts

A living trust is an arrangement made during your lifetime and at your direction, whereby property and assets are held by/transferred to an individual or other entity (trustee) for the benefit of another specific person(s) or entity (beneficiary); the terms of which are set out in a Trust Deed.

A Trustee is an individual or corporate entity to whom you transfer legal ownership of certain assets, to be held in trust for the benefit of your selected beneficiaries.

A Trustee owes a fiduciary duty to the Trust, the Settlor (you) and the beneficiaries under the Trust, to carry out the express terms of the Trust Deed, and more specifically:

to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries at all times;

to refrain from making any unauthorised personal profits for himself; and

to act prudently in investing the trust property, and to generate best possible financial returns for the Trust

Inter Vivos Gifts

An inter vivos gift is a gift of personal property made by you (“the Donor”) during your lifetime and delivered to the recipient (“the Donee”), with the intention of irrevocably surrendering control over the said property.

In other words, a gift inter-vivos is an act whereby you voluntarily transfer an asset to another person, with full intention that the said asset should not return to you; and with the full intention on the part of the receiver to retain the asset entirely as his own without restoring it to you. Thus, upon acceptance of the gift by the receiver, and in the absence of any form of coercion or undue influence, you will have no right to revoke the gift.

In order to be “complete “, there must be a clear intention on the part of the donor to make the gift. Also, there must be actual delivery by the donor, following which the gift is accepted by the donee.

Thus, for a gift to be valid, there must be:

Intent to transfer ownership of the property (donative intent)

Actual delivery of the property

Acceptance of the property

The above elements will be reflected in an instrument – a Deed of Gift – which will be executed by the Donor and Donee.

A Deed of Gift over real property must be registered in accordance with the applicable laws of the jurisdiction within which the property is located.

Please go to FAQ for more information. If you have more questions, please fill the feedback form below. A Wealth Advisor will contact you.

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