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THE LEGAL RELEVANCE OF MAKING A WILL OVER NOT MAKING ONE

Introduction

A WILL is defined as a declaration in a prescribed manner of the intention of the person making it with regard to matters with which he or she wishes to take effect upon or after his or her death (Halbury’s Law of England, 4th ed).

This means that if you want to determine how your affairs should be managed after your death then you need to make a WILL. Otherwise, the Intestate Succession Law, 1985 (PNDC L 111) shall apply. Generally, the PNDC L 111 says that when you die intestate or without making a WILL, all the household chattels must go to the surviving spouse and children. Additionally, the law grants surviving spouse and children a house if it is only one or a house of their choice if there are many houses.

Once one house and household chattels have been taken by the surviving spouse and children, the residue of the estates are shared according to the following ratio – Spouse – 3/16 (18.75%), Children – 9/16 (56.25%), Parents 2/16 (12.5%) and Family 2/16 (12.5%). The law further makes provision for other sharing scenarios.

 

Why Make A Will

  • You are able to change the default sharing ratio provided under PNDCL 111 in order that your choice prevails and to ensure that there is equity. One is able to make higher provision for younger children compared to those who are already independent and well established.

 

  • You are able to make provision of property beyond the list outlined under PNDCL 111 (Spouse, Children, Parents and Family). In fact, a WILL allows you to make provision for religious bodies like churches, mosques, charitable organizations, grandchildren, servants, workers, friends or other relatives etc.

 

  • You are able to show disapproval of a grown-up child or any family member by disinheriting the person.

 

  • You are able to tie down property to descend in a particular family line either male or female way etc.

 

  • You are able to appoint guardian of your choice for infants until they attain the age of majority.

 

  • You are able to appoint qualified executors to manage your estates whereas you will not be able to do so for administrators if you fail to make a WILL.

 

  • Executors will be able to act upon a person’s demise even before going to court to obtain Probate but the administrators cannot do so until they go to court to obtain Letters of Administration (LA).

 

  • You are able to set up a Trust to manage your estates for beneficiaries in order to survive many generations and to also eschew misuse of estates by beneficiaries.

 

  • You are able to give directions as to your burial, or cremation or as to the use of your body or parts for educational or research purposes etc. The direction on burial and funeral rites will potentially minimize if not prevent the increasing disputes associated with burials and handling of body which have torn many families apart.

 

  • You avoid the expenses associated with administration bond and sureties when you make a WILL, which means beneficiaries will get more value when you make a WILL.

Note: The WILL is a legal document and must comply with law.

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