THE PROCESS OF EXECUTING A WILL AFTER THE TESTATOR’S DEATH.

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When someone dies leaving a will, he or she has died testate (and is referred to as a
Testator). The Testator through the will would have appointed one or more individuals to
serve as executors of the will. In this case, the executors will be responsible for administering the assets of the Testator. If you have been appointed as executor, you need to take two important steps:
(a) Obtain the grant of probate. (b) Distribute the assets according to the wishes of the deceased. The administration, practice, and procedure for probate in Nigeria are principally
regulated by the Administration of Estate Laws of the various states of the Federation. The
provisions and forms for each state are identical to one another. Other laws that govern probate in various states include the followings: -The Wills Act, 1837, as amended by the Wills Amendment Act of 1852 and the Wills Law of various
States. -High Court Civil Procedure Rules of Various States e.g. —
High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure Rules) 2019. The Grant of Probate is obtained concerning the estate of testate succession, while
Letters of Administration is obtained concerning both intestate succession (where there
is no will) and testate succession. While it is possible to obtain Letters of Administration
for testate succession, it is impossible to obtain Grant of Probate for intestate succession. Probate would mean any of the following actions; -The act of admitting a will for the will to be administered
-The action or step taken towards administering the estate of a deceased person in line
with a valid will written. -Confirmation that indeed the deceased person is dead and taking steps towards
administering his or her estate. The powers and authority of personal representatives (Executors/Administrators) to act
and administer the estate of a deceased is derived from a will where the deceased died
testate. The Grant of Probate and Letter of Administration validates such powers and
authority. The probate registry has the exclusive jurisdiction to issue and revoke grants of probate
and letters of administration of the real and personal estate of a deceased person to his
personal representatives and all other ancillary matters that relate to the administration of
the estate. The Probate Registry is usually a division of the High Court of most states of
the Federation and is subject to the supervision of the High Court of a State.

The probate registry within the jurisdiction of a testator is a secured place for the custody
of wills. Where a will has been prepared by a testator in his hand or by his lawyer, it must
be lodged at the probate registry of the High Court upon payment of the prescribed fees. Keeping the will with the testator might be disadvantageous as there is the possibility of
will falling into the wrong hands, thus it is better to lodge the will with the probate registry
as the safety of the will is guaranteed and the grant of probate is also handled by the same
probate registry of the High Court. Order 62 Rule 2 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure Rules) 2019 provides
that “an original Will of which probate or administration with Will annexed is granted, shall be filed and kept in the Probate Registry in such manner as to secure its convenient
inspection. A copy of every such Will and the probate or administration shall be reserved
in the Registry”. When an application to lodge a will is made, the Probate Registrar is required to carry out a
physical examination of the will to ensure it is properly sealed and waxed. The lodgment fee
is made by the testator or his solicitor and an official receipt or reference number will be
issued to that effect. The receipt or reference number will be required upon the death of the
testator where the family seeks to retrieve and read the will. The probate registry is responsible for issuing a Grant of Probate to a deceased person’s
executors in a testate administration. Section 20 of the Administration of Estate Law of
Lagos State provides that “an application for the grant or revocation ofprobate or letters of
administration may be made through the probate registry of the court”. Order 61 Rule 1 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure Rules) 2019 provides
that “when any person subject to the jurisdiction of the court dies, all petitions for the
Grant of Letters of Administration of the estate of the deceased person, with or without a
Will attached, and all applications on matters relating to the administration of the
deceased estate shall be made to the Probate Registrar of the court in Probate Form 1 or 2
as applicable “. Upon the death of a testator, the Probate Registry is the first point of call, especially where the
will was lodged at the probate registry by the testator. The grant of probate validates and
provides the grounds for the enforcement of the content of the will. The process for the
application for grant of probate involves the following; •After the burial of the testator, a search is made to discover if a will was lodged and it
proceeds to the reading of the Will. •Application is then made to the Probate Registrar of the Probate Registry of the High Court
of a state, to be accompanied by a copy of the will and the death certificate of the testator.

•Upon submission of the application, forms will be given to the applicant and estate duties
(usually 10% of the total value of the testator’s assets) will be paid on the deceased estate after
the assessment of the estate by the registry. •The necessary forms or documents that would be needed for grant of probate are as follows:
(i) Application for grant of probate of the will. (ii) Declaration on oath by the executors. (iii) Bank certificate. (iv)Proof of identity of the applicant. (v)Proof of identity of the deceased. (vi)A duly completed inventory of assets of the deceased.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that this article is a publication of Sunesis Legal, and is only intended to provide readers with general information on the subject matter. It should not be construed as legal advice, and does not by itself create a client/attorney relationship between readers and our Law Firm. We are available to provide specialist legal advice on the readers’ specific circumstances when they arise. To book a consultation with us send an email to info@sunesislegal.com

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