HOW TO DRAFT A WILL
A last will and testament is a legal document which states what is to happen to your possessions and assets when you die. There are many advantages to creating a will because it allows you to organise your affairs and belongings, which means you can provide financial security for your family, appoint guardians for your children, and specify wishes for your funeral.
A will has to fulfil a number of legal requirements, and if your estate (all your property and assets) is complicated, you may need to consult a lawyer to help you. However if your situation is relatively straightforward, you can draft your own will, avoiding legal fees.
1) Identify yourself- At the beginning state your full name, address, date of birth and any relevant state issued ID number.
2) Declare that this is your will- Your first sentence should be “I declare that this is my last will and testament.”
3) If you have previously made another will, include a sentence saying that they are no longer to be used, for example “I hereby revoke and cancel any wills previously made by me.”
4) Soundness of mind- Wills can be challenged (questioned) if the testator (writer of the will) was not of sound mind. Therefore include a statement to prove you have legal capacity, for example “I declare that I am of legal age to make this will, and that I am sound of mind.
5) Wills can also be challenged if they were made under undue influence (the writer of the will was somehow manipulated or exploited). Therefore you should include a statement such as “This will expresses my wishes without undue influence or duress.
6) Identify Beneficiaries (people to whom you are leaving part of your estate)- If you are leaving part of your estate to your family members state their name and date of birth. For example “I am married to Ifemelu Obianuju, born 06/07/1964, hereafter referred to as my spouse,” and “I have the following children; Buchi Obianuju, born 06/08/2000.”
7) Appoint an executor- An executor is the person who makes sure the will is followed and ensures the property and assets are distributed as you wish. Anyone can be an executor but it is helpful if this person has experience in business or law. It is also a good idea to appoint a secondary executor in case the primary executor is unable to perform their duties. For example “I appoint Kosi Maduewesi as Executor. If this Executor is unable or unwilling to serve then I appoint Aisha Fofana as alternative Executor.”
8) State how you want to divide your assets (money) by allocating a percentage to each person. For example “To my spouse, Ifemelu Obianuju, I leave 70%” and “To my child, Buchi Obianuju, I leave 30%.”
9) If you want a particular asset or possession to be left to someone, state their full name with a detailed description of the asset and it will not be included in the percentages specified above. For example “To my friend, Kosi Maduewesi, I leave my brown, Timex watch.”
10) Specify who the shares of your assets should go to if the beneficiaries die before you. For example; “Should my child, Buchi Obianuju, die before me, her 30% share shall pass to Kosi Maduewesi.”
11) Designate a guardian to any children who are not legally adults.
12) You can specify how you would like your remains to be handled or funeral paid for.
13) At the end of your will, put your signature, name, date and location. In many countries the law requires that a will be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses who also have to sign a document stating that you were of sound mind and legal ages when you signed in their presence.