As we discussed a few weeks ago, two situations exist when an individual dies. Death all on its own is unexpected and yet some people can prepare for its likelihood while others are not as lucky. In cases where one leaves a will behind, we refer to this as testate and once one dies without leaving a will or if their will is invalid, they have died intestate. To die without a will is a sad thing, especially because it leaves several loved ones in limbo on what to do. In such a situation, the deceased’s property will be handled according to the law and customs of the family.
Once the deceased has passed, there is a need for individuals to distribute the property accordingly. A will comes in handy here because it gives clear instructions on who receives what. A deceased may have various property titles, bank accounts, and pension plans that require adequate and fair execution. In cases where one dies testate, the duty to handle all these responsibilities vests in an executor and if one dies intestate, then it rests with an Administrator. Both of these individuals are called to be personal representatives of the deceased.
Death is not the opposite of life but a part of life.Haruki Mukarami
As we all know that with great power comes great responsibility, one does not just wake up to these roles and take charge. It is required that applications be made to the court. Upon successful application, the executor will receive a Grant of Probate and an administrator will be awarded Letters of Administration. These letters allow said individuals to have all access to bank accounts, property, dividends, NSSF funds, etc. Anything that counts part and parcel of the deceased estate.
The first question we must ask ourselves is how these letters are acquired. When a person passes away, an executor or administrator will be provided with a Notice of Death from the hospital or chairman depending on where the deceased died. This is then taken to the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) to process a formal Death Certificate. Once you have received a death certificate, the next stop is the Administrator General’s office. Here you are required to fill in a form which will require you to fill in all information about the deceased, once that has been filled, the form will then be forwarded to a legal officer who will permit the opening of the file and then you will be given a file number.
After a few days, your file will have been given to a legal officer who will then proceed to ask you several questions and then draft a letter to the Chief Administrative Officer of the district where the deceased passed. The Chief Administrative officer upon receiving this letter will then convene a meeting with members of the deceased’s family to discuss issues concerning the will. After these meetings, another letter is written and the file is taken back to the Administrator General. Once everything is assessed and in order, the file will be recommended for a Certificate of No Objection.
Your next destination is the court of law. An application is filed to be awarded a grant of probate or letter of administration respectively. A Notice of Application is then signed and issued by the Magistrate or Registrar of the Court. This notice will then be taken to a media house to be advertised to inform the public that you have applied for the respective permissions and in case anyone has objections to your application, they will have to lodge a caveat with the court within 14 days. With no objections, the court will require you to appear in court for identification as the Administrator or Executor of the estate. The court will then grant you letters of administration or a grant of probate.
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