Interestingly, most people start thinking about making or execution a Will when they are old and close to their graves. This unfortunately, has led to several persons unable to prepare a Will during their lifetime.
However, preparation or execution of a will is part of estate planning and providing the needed protection for your loved ones and family when you are no more. It is therefore necessary that you execute a valid Will during your lifetime to provide the needed protection and safety for your family and loved ones.
This article takes you through the key requirements you have to meet in preparing a valid Will in Ghana.
Only persons who are aged 18 years and above; and of sound mind are capable of executing a valid will. The Will should be made in writing and the purpose should be to dispose of the property of that person or to which that person will be entitled at the time of their death or to which that person may be entitled after death.
APPOINTMENT OF EXECUTOR(S)
It is required that the person making the Will ("Testator") must appoint at least one executor in the Will. Executors are persons who upon the death of the testator administer or ensures that the wishes of the Testator are carried out. The appointed executor must not be less than 21 years and should have a capacity to enter into a contract.
DISTRIBUTION OF ASSETS AND PROPERTIES OF THE TESTATOR
This is one of the vital parts of a Will. There is no need to execute a Will if the testator does not own any asset or likely to own any asset in the future.
The testator has to list all his or her personal assets or assets he is likely to own at the time of making the will. For ease of making sure that all the assets owned by the Testator are covered, it is important that the Testator arrange the assets under following headings: Movable, Immovable, Cash and Investments and Personal properties.
Immovable properties are normally physical properties including lands, buildings (complete and Uncompleted) and other structures. Movable properties are properties which can be easily move around including cars, furniture, equipment, intellectual property and others.
Personal properties are personal clothes, shoes, watches and other personal items used by the testator. Cash and other investments includes cash at the Bank, shares investments and other liquid investments.
After listing all the above and making sure that all the assets and properties are covered, the Testator will have to assign it to the intended loved one or family member for their benefit upon the testator's death.
The Testator is at liberty to dispose the properties to the beneficiaries permanently or for a limited period of time and the appointed Executor will ensure that the wishes are carried out.
It is very important that you make provision for residual assets or properties when preparing a Will. Residual assets or properties are properties or assets you may acquire or entitled after execution of the Will or upon your death. It is important that you assign it to the love one or family member you intend to benefit from it.
TESTATOR SIGNING OF WILL
It is Mandatory that the Will, when completed, must be signed by the testator or any other person the testator directs. Unsigned Will when challenged at the Court can be declared null and void.
It is also required that at least two (2) witnesses have to be present to witness the Testator signing the Will. The Witnesses should indicate in the Will they were present and saw the testator signing the will. This is a mandatory requirement and failure to comply with it can affect the validity of the Will when challenged.
DEPOSIT IN COURT
Upon execution of the Will a copy of it have to be deposited at the High Court. The court will seal the Will together with the Testator seal and keep it for safe custody.
REVOCATION AND ALTERATION OF A WILL
After execution of a Will, it is tempting to amend it when it becomes necessary. However, you cannot make any alternations or changes on a Will which has already been executed. In the event you want to make changes or alteration on the Will, you can validly altered it by executing a new Will to effect the needed changes.
Upon execution of the Will the testator can anytime revoke it. It can be done by tearing or destroying them. Further it can also be revoked by executing a new will and expressing his/her intention to do so in it.
DO YOU REQUIRE A LAWYER TO PREPARE A WILL?
You do not need a lawyer or an expert to help you prepare your Will, however, if you are unsure or nervous about it, it is important that you seek a legal or expert advice to assist you in preparing a valid Will.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.