The Final Testament: 6 Facts About Wills in Ghana

TAP Episode 2 – Why Move Back When Your Parents Wouldn’t?
October 16, 2018
Insight Into Ghanaian Dual Citizenship
October 18, 2018

Most of us stay away from the topic of death and anything related to it, though one day the inevitable will happen.One key way to make it all a less scary idea is to document how you want your passing to look like (major props to John McCain) via a will. Wills lay out what you would like to do with the outcome of your life’s work – both in cash and kind. Truth is you have some control and should write a will so things will go as you intend even when you’re gone. 

It is quite refreshing to have had an Ahasporan bring up the topic of wills in Ghana on the group’s listserv. This sparked conversations that sought to demistify if wills stand ground in Ghana at all, and how one ensures that their home is willed or passed on to a specific family member when they die.

A lawyer in the group shared these 6 helpful facts on wills:

  • To make a will, the testator (person making the will) must be at least eighteen years old and of sound mind at the time of making the will.
  • A will must be executed in accordance with the law where it was made.For example in Ghana, one way to validly execute a will is by the testator signing the will in the presence of two witnesses.
  • A witness to a will cannot be a beneficiary under the will (but can be an executor of the will or a creditor of the testator).
  • To revoke a will, the testator must form an intention to do so, and put that intention in writing or physically destroy the will.
  • If the testator does not make reasonable provision in life or under the will, for the maintenance of the father, mother, spouse or child under eighteen years of age of the testator, an application can be made to the High Court for reasonable provision out of the estate of the testator.
  • Property of a testator falls into residue (and if there is no residuary clause, PNDC Law 111 applies) when:
    ~ A beneficiary under a will predeceases the testator without leaving an issue. A disposition under a will (or the giving of property under the will) is made contrary to law
    ~ The Testator has or acquires or is entitled to property which has not been disposed off under the will.

And how much do all these cost? Every different bit of the process has separate fees and charges, for example, the cost of writing a will versus fee for if there is litigation over a will. The Ghana Bar Association has a scale of fees. The lawyer’s fees are separate from court fees and administrative charges. Unfortunately these court charges have been raised significantly in recent times. It is best to deal directly with the courts and administrative bodies, to avoid legal fees.

 

~By Nana Sakyiwa, Esq.

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