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STEPS FOR WRITING A WILL INseeking legal advice and making a Will, you could significantly reduce the likelihood of a successful claim CAMEROON 2023

Writing a will isn’t the most pleasant of tasks. After all, by doing so, you’re acknowledging your inevitable demise and actively planning for it. That might explain why so many adults avoid this cornerstone of estate planning. According to a recent survey, 8 out of 10 Cameroonians over 45 don’t have a will, and 7 out of 10 will not make one before they pass.
Creating a will is one of the most critical things you can do for your loved ones. Putting your wishes on paper helps your heirs avoid unnecessary hassles, and you gain the peace of mind of knowing that a life’s worth of possessions will end up in the right hands.
This report aims to give a simple, concise, and straight-to-the-point justification of the fundamental requirements for any person interested in writing or planning to write a Will.
This Article also aims to correct the opinion of many who have come to believe with absolute certainty that Wills are superfluous, ignorable, and indeed death pronouncements. This article will give the reader a refreshed perspective on the significance of writing and keeping a Will.


A Will or Testament is a legal document by which a person, the testator, expresses their wishes as to how their property will be distributed at death and names one or more persons, called the executor, to manage the Estate until its final distribution. In layman’s language, it is simply a legal document in which you, the testator, declare who will handle your Estate after you die. It helps a person determine what happens to his properties/Estate after his death; it also allows him to give any instructions he may wish to be carried out if he is no longer alive. Apart from deciding who gets your assets, a Will can also declare who you want to become the guardian of any minor children or dependents.
The most important things to provide for in your Will are who will be your executors, who will be the beneficiaries of your assets, and in cases where there are minors – who the guardian(s) of the minors will be.
In Cameroon, a will could either be oral or written. Oral wills made by word of mouth are recognized under our customary or indigenous laws, while written wills are governed by law and statutes. In this report, we will focus on written wills.


In preparing a will, a testator (person making his Will) must have the capacity to do so, meaning he must be of legal age (above 18yrs) and have mental capacity (he must be of sound mind). Furthermore, for a will to be valid, it must be;


      1. It must be made voluntarily

      1. It must be in writing (either typed or handwritten)

      1. The testator must sign it

      1. At least two witnesses must acknowledge the testator’s signature (it is advised that a beneficiary to a will must not act as a witness to the Will).

      1. The testator must be of sound mind

      1. It must name the beneficiary or beneficiaries

      1. It must identify the property.
        In probate courts today, many parties in legal battles contest the provisions of a will. The court will likely set aside a will if there is conclusive proof that the testator did not have the mental capacity to understand what he was doing when the Will was made or if the testator was unduly influenced to dispose of his properties as he did in the Will.
        A person who dies without making a will is described as someone who ‘died intestate’. In such situations, certain family members shall apply to the High Court probate registry and grant letters of administration to the administrator of the deceased’s Estate.

        An executor is someone named in a will or appointed by the court and is legally responsible for caring for a deceased person’s remaining financial obligations. This refers to taking care of everything from disposing of property to paying bills and taxes. The executor can give the beneficiaries whatever is left in the Estate after the debts, expenses, claims, and taxes have been paid. The executor has certain legal and financial powers to manage the Estate, including the ability to keep or sell property in the Estate, invest cash, and borrow money.
        The executor cannot see the Will before the testator’s death as the Wills do not become public records until after the Will is filed with the probate court. Thus, executors have no right to read a will before the testator’s death. Some people opt to write sealed wills and give only one sealed copy to a lawyer, accountant, or other people for safekeeping.
        In a probate action, an executor must follow the directives in the Will. If the executor does not, the beneficiaries can petition the court to either require the executor to carry out his duty or to remove the executor. This applies only if the is an actual probate proceeding.


        A properly drafted will have several advantages, including comfort and ease of mind that your affairs will be handled appropriately after your death. Some benefits of making a will are:


      1. Make your wishes known:
        Without a valid Will, the distribution of your assets will be according to the rules of intestacy – not according to your wishes.

      1. Provide for those you choose:
        If you are in a relationship and are not married or do not have a registered civil partnership, you cannot inherit your spouse’s or partner’s Estate unless they have a valid Will in place. If one person in such a relationship dies without a Will, this can create severe financial hardship for the surviving partner.

      1. Protect your children:
        If you have a child or children, a valid Will is necessary to make arrangements for the children should the parents die. It is vital to have a Will in place if the children are under 18 and would need someone to look after their inheritance or to have a guardian appointed for them.

      1. Reduce inheritance tax:
        Careful drafting of your Will may reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable by your beneficiaries after your death.

      1. Protect your Estate from being contested:
        There has been a significant rise in claims against the estates of people who have died. The Interstate Succession under the Customary Law Act Nigeria allows specific individuals to claim provision from a person’s Estate, even if that person never intended to leave that individual any money or assets. By seeking legal advice and making a Will, you could significantly reduce the likelihood of a successful claim being made.
        Making a Will need not be time-consuming or costly, but ensuring your assets are distributed to those you love is vitally important.


        As part of the Wills Act, witnesses are necessary to ensure the document becomes official and legally binding. Without witnesses, your Will is simply an ‘official looking’ document. Selecting your witnesses is an essential step in the process. Most states require that witnesses be “disinterested”. In other words, this is someone that does not stand to inherit under the terms of the Will. A beneficiary’s spouse may also be disqualified from serving as a witness. If a beneficiary does serve as a witness, Will’s gift to that person could be declared void by a court, but the rest of the Will would remain in effect. Each witness must be a legal adult, usually 18 or over. The lawyer who drew up a will can also serve as a witness when the Will is signed, even if they are named executor and will profit later from charging fees for the executor’s work.
        The minimum criteria are:
        • Family members
        • Your husband/wife or civil partner
        • Any of your beneficiaries, who are the people you intend
        to inherit from your Estate
        • The husband/wife or civil partner of a beneficiary in your
        • Anyone under the age of 18 years of age
        • Anyone who is blind or partially sighted
        • Anyone who does not have the sufficient mental capacity to
        understand what they are witnessing
        Finally, keep in mind you need two witnesses present. Ensure you plan and schedule a time for all parties to witness and sign your Will. Witnesses should sign the Will with their signature and full name in print lettering, address, and occupation to ensure easy identification. Remember to date your Will to provide the most current version executed.
        Writing a Will is a prudent exercise and an excellent way to protect your loved ones. The correct witnesses go even further to save this vital document.


        The Will should be signed in the presence of your two witnesses, and in the spaces provided, you should:
        1 date the document (e.g.’ the 15th day of January 2019′);
        2 sign your name using your ‘usual’ signature where indicated whilst your witnesses watch;
        3 ask your two witnesses to add, in your presence, their ‘usual’ signatures where indicated, asking them to print their names, addresses, and occupations clearly for identification purposes.


        Wills can be altered before signing, but the testator and witnesses must sign or initial in the margin or near the alteration. If this is not done, the court will assume that the alteration was made after the Will was signed, and the alteration will not be effective unless the court waives the formalities. Once a will has been signed, there can be no alteration, either by crossing out or writing in new clauses, unless the new provisions are executed in the same manner as a will.


        After writing it, you need to make sure you keep it in a safe place where your executors (and no one else) can find it because the executor will need the original Will to handle your affairs efficiently when they need it.
        It is pertinent to place your Will where it’s safe from theft, fire, or other damage. It is also essential to ensure that those administering and proving the Will find it after the testator’s death. The Will can be kept in the following places:

        A Will can be kept personally by the testator himself. This can be done through various means. It is advisable to keep your Will where none of the beneficiaries or third parties can see it. The content of the Will is supposed to be made known after the death of the testator.
        Your home is probably the most accessible place for your executors to find your Will since it will probably be the first place they look if you haven’t told them otherwise.
        A safe-deposit box in your home is possible, although it may be difficult for your personal representative to access it after your death. The Will is of no use if, after the testator’s death, no one can access how to open the box. So it is expedient to grant access to your personal representative so that they can gain access to the Will in the event of death.

        Storage at the probate registry is one option for keeping a will in safe custody. This is the best place to keep a will. Keeping the Will within the jurisdiction the Will was made is the best alternative. The procedures which a testator must comply with before his Will is accepted and maintained at the probate registry can also be an advantage and also operate in favor of the Will, should the validity of the contents of the Will be contested by anyone on the ground that the testator lacked a sound mind when making the Will.
        The Will submitted for Probate must be the latest Will. This will ensure that the correct person is applying to administer the Estate.

      1. BANKS
        Banks have vaults for safekeeping key items belonging to customers, including legal documents such as property deeds, certificates, wills, etc.
        An intelligent way of keeping some of your valuable assets is storing them in the safe-deposit box of your bank. Banks have safe deposit boxes, which they can lease out to customers annually, but the only problem is that your executors will have no right to access your stored documents until they have a Grant of Probate.

        A will can be kept with a trusted friend or relation. The most important thing is that they make it available upon the death of the testator. It is advisable to keep it in possession of a much younger trusted friend or relation. This is because there is a strong presumption that the older will predecease the younger.

        A copy of the Will can also be kept with the solicitor who prepared it.
        Solicitors often offer Will storage without charging anything. It is often believed that the number of wills in storage significantly influences the value of a solicitors’ practice. Be that as it may, the solicitor plays a significant role in storing a will.

        Some people also give a copy to their representative. Usually, reading a will doesn’t happen until after a funeral. So you’d want your representative to have a copy to carry out your funeral wishes.


        It is significant to say that making a will is very important and should be embraced by all to protect the interest of loved ones and ensure one’s assets are appropriately managed. It is neither a curse nor a superstitious belief, as many believe but a means of protection and administration. Anyone can write their Will themselves, but it is advisable to employ the service of a lawyer for proper guidance.




    ‘’The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. We insist specialist advice be sought depending on your specific circumstance’’






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