Mrs Titi Adegbile

It is pretty important to observe legal formalities when signing your Will. This chapter examines the technical details of the law and helps you guard against a defective Will. A Will is a highly technical legal document and legalities must necessarily be complied with.

A Will requires some formal as well as informal or intrinsic conditions to be valid. The formal requirements are that the Will must be in writing and must be duly executed. A person cannot be said to have made a document unless he signs or otherwise acknowledges its authenticity. Execution of a Will and codicil is one of the statutory and mandatory requirements in both the Wills Act, 1837 and the indigenous Wills Laws of the various states in Nigeria for validity.

Section 9 of the Wills Act, I837 provides:

No Will shall be valid unless it shall be in writing and executed in the manner thereinafter; (that is to say) it shall be signed at the foot or end thereof by the testator or by some other person in his presence and by his direction. Such signature shall be made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time and such witness shall attest and shall subscribe to the Will in the presence of the testator, but no form of attestation shall be necessary.

From the above provision, for a Will to be valid:
a. It must be in writing.
b. It must be signed by the testator, or his representative.
c. The signature of the testator must be witnessed, at least by two witnesses.
d. The witnesses must attest and subscribe to the Will in the presence of the testator.
e. The signature of the testator shall be at the foot or end of the Will.
f. In addition, no witness can be named as a beneficiary in the Will otherwise, the Will will be unenforceable to the extent of the gift.

It has been said that these formal requirements were introduced to provide a safeguard against forgery and undue influence and also against dispositions in the heat of the moment. These formalities are strict and any breach of the steps invalidate the Will.

5.4.1 Marriage
In all the states of the Federation, marriage revokes a Will. However, if a Will is made in contemplation of the marriage to be celebrated, and the names of the parties are stated in the Will, then there will be no revocation. The rationale behind revocation of a Will by marriage is to ensure that testators are alive to their responsibility and given the opportunity to provide for their would-be spouse.”
5.4.2 Revocation of a Will
5.4.3 Subsequent Will or codicil;
Another Will or codicil may expressly or impliedly revoke an earlier Will.
5.4.4 By destruction with intent

There must be physical destruction. Cancelling a Will by striking it through with a pen has been held not to be destruction. Abandonment, for instance, by squeezing up the Will does not qualify as destruction for the purpose of revocation of a Will. Symbolism to destroy is not destruction.


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