“Our guide to making a Will can help you with all aspects of writing a will, one that leaves a home, investments, and personal items to your loved ones, and, if you have young children, that names a guardian to take care of them”
WHAT IS A WILL
Will is a statement, which is voluntarily made by a person during his lifetime to explain his intention on how his property shall be distributed upon his death. A Will can be of two types: An oral Will and a written Will.
An oral will is a type of a will where the wishes of the testator (the one making the will) are not in a written form, the testator only express his wishes verbally to the available witnesses on how his properties shall be distributed upon his/her death. While in a written will the testator wishes are put in a written form signed by him/her and witnesses who know how to read and write and who saw the testator affix his signature on the document.
IMPORTANCE OF MAKING A WILL
Generally, your Will tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions and property (your estate) after you die. If you don’t leave a Will, the law will decide how your estate is passed on, something which may not be in line with your wishes.
A properly executed will allows you to specify exactly how you would like your estate handled upon your death, including how and to whom the property should be delivered, who should watch over your minor children (if any), and who should manage the administration of your estate.
A will makes it much easier for your family or friends to sort everything out when you die, without a will the process can be more time consuming and stressful.
WHAT SHOULD A WILL CONTAINS?
- As a writer of the will, or testator, you must be at least 18 years of age.
- You must have testamentary capacity, and must state in writing that you are of sound mind and are writing the will of your own accord.
- A statement declaring the document as your will must be included.
- An executor should be appointed.
- The document must contain at least one provision that names a personal guardian for a minor child and/or at least one provision providing for the allocation of your estate.
- If the will is not written in your handwriting (i.e., typed), you must sign the will and it must be attested to by witnesses who are not beneficiaries and who saw the will signed by you.
VALIDITY OF A WILL
The making of a will is a vitally important act, with far-reaching consequences. Since you cannot “take it with you” when you die, having a valid will is one of the few ways you can give back to those you love in a proper, legal manner.
Generally, a will is not valid unless it fulfills the following requirements.
A person must be of legal age to make a will. In Tanzania the law considers you to have legal capacity to create a Will if you are 18 years of age or older.
The person has ‘testamentary capacity” if he has a sound mind, meaning the testator must know that he or she is making a will and its effect; understand the nature and extent of the estate; and understand that he or she is disposing of property and assets.
A person has intent to make a Will if at the time of the signing, he or she intends to make a revocable disposition of property in the event of his death.
A Will must be voluntarily entered into and signed by the testator. A will executed by a person who was coerced into signing the will, or who signed the will under duress, or undue influence is not considered to be a valid will.
Proper Disposal of Property
A Will must properly dispose of the testator’s property. This includes listing all property and assets and properly distributing them among friends and family according to the testator’s wishes.
Appointment of executor
A Will must name an executor. This is a person who will oversee your asserts after you die and will make sure that your wishes set out in the will are followed. Is the one who is responsible for safeguarding your asserts and administering any trust which you set up under your Will. The executor will be responsible for distributing all your asserts to the beneficiaries
Signed, Dated and Witnessed by Two persons who are not beneficiary
A Will can be handwritten on a single piece of paper or elaborately typed within multiple pages, depending on the size of the estate and preference of the testator. It must also be signed and dated by the testator in front of two competent witnesses, who must also sign. If the testator is illiterate the written will must be witnessed by four persons, two of them must be relative of the testator.
DISTRIBUTION OF ESTATE UNDER TESTACY AND INTESTACY
Whenever a person dies leaving property, the question will definitely arise as to how his property or estate will be dealt with by those he/she left behind. A person is normally said to have died testate if he left a Will at the time of his/her death and a person is said to have died intestate if such a person died without leaving a Will.
When a person dies testate, things are a bit easier since all that his/her Personal Representative (executor) will do is to apply and obtain a grant of Probate which merely validates his Will and allows the Personal Representative/Executors to carry out or effectuate the wishes of the testator e.g. distributing the property according to the wishes of the testator.
However, where a person died intestate, his personal representative will apply for Letters of Administration to deal with his estate, which might be a bit complex, hence the imperative to write or make a Will.
REVOCATION & AMENDMENT OF A WILL
A will is ambulatory, which means that a competent testator may change or revoke it at any time before his/her death. Revocation of a will occurs when a person who has made a will takes some action to indicate that he no longer wants its provisions to be binding and the law abides by his decision. Revocation can be in respect of the properties distributed, appointed executor, or the beneficiaries.
For revocation to be effective the intent of the testator, whether express or implied, must be clear, and an act of revocation consistent with this intent must occur. Persons who wish to revoke a will may use a codicil.
Codicil is a document that changes, revokes, or amends part or all of a validly executed will. When a person executes a codicil that revokes some provisions of a previous will, the courts will recognize this as a valid revocation. Likewise, a new will that completely revokes an earlier will indicates the testator’s intent to revoke the will.
Sometimes revocation occurs by operation of law, as in the case of a marriage, Divorce, birth of a child, or the sale of property devised in the will, which automatically changes the legal duties of the testator.
The Probate and Administration of Estates Lawyers At Eden Law Chambers, assist our Clients and guide them through the process of creating the valid will, making sure the will is compatible with the legal requirements in Tanzania. We also provide our clients with the will deposit services. This article is intended to give you a general overview of how the valid will is created and its conformity with the legal requirement in the United Republic of Tanzania. If you would like further information and clarification on any issue raised in this article, please contact;