A Will ensures that a person determines what happens to his properties after his death while letters of administration in Cameroon, empower an administrator to administer the deceased estate in the absence of s Will.
A Will is simply the intentions and wishes of a person to be carried out after his death. The major characteristic of a Will includes: it must be freely made without pressure and undue influence, the maker can change his Will during his lifetime, it speaks after the death of the maker, it must be signed and witnessed and lastly it must identify the names of the beneficiaries as well as the properties to be disposed of. A Will is not valid when the testator had no intention and failed to comply with the requirements and formalities.
My experience as a legal practitioner has shown that most disputes over the Wills of a deceased person deal with controversies over:
Forgery – where the Will was forged
Undue influence –Where the Will was made under pressure
Lack of knowledge and approval- where the testator was induced by fraud or mistake in the making of a Will.
Incapacity of the testator –where the testator lacks the requisite age or mental capacity to make a Will.
ADVANTAGES OF A WILL
It may give peace of mind to d wait for the testator
It saves time and money because, in a situation where the deceased died intestate, administrators will have to apply and wait for a grant of letters of administration.
The testator can appoint guardians to look after his children.
The testator has the opportunity to demonstrate his wishes.
A gift commonly referred to as a “living Will” is different from a Will in that while the latter takes effect after the death of the testator, the former takes effect even when the donor is still living. Living Will is common when the testator wishes to see how responsible and competent his children can manage the properties in his lifetime and also to relieve himself of the burden in managing the property. It is advisable to be by way of a deed of gift.
In drafting a Will for a client the commencement part must read “This is the last Will and Testament and also a revocation, appointment, and disposition clause. In a situation where there exist many Wills, the Last Will and testament prevail.
PROBATE AND LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION IN CAMEROON
A letter of probate is an application made to the court to prove a Will to the satisfaction of the court. It is a judicial procedure by which a testamentary document is established to be a valid Will. A letter of probate can be made by an executor. However, the said application can be challenged by a caveat entered against the grant. The procedure to follow differs depending on whether there is a caveat or none.
THE HIERARCHY FOR GRANT LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION IN CAMEROON
One advantage of making a Will is that personal representatives could be appointed. However, the law has laid down some guidance on the order of priority of persons who could be granted letters of administration in Cameroon. The hierarchy for grant of letters of administration in Cameroon is as follows:
Husband or wife of the deceased
Children of the deceased
Father or mother of the deceased
Brother or sisters of the deceased of full blood and children of such brothers and sisters.
Brothers and sisters of half-bloods and children of such brothers and sisters
Grandfather or grandmother of the deceased.
Uncles and aunts of full blood or their children
Creditor of deceased
PROCEDURE FOR LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION IN CAMEROON
- Copy of death certificate
- Identity card of the diseased
- Marriage certificate
- Identity card of applicants
- Identity card of two witnesses ( children above 21)
- Birth certificate of all children
The entire procedure for a grant of letters of administration in Cameroon is strict and legal that notwithstanding certain documents like the death certificate of the deceased, list of people interested in the estate, and the required statutory forms must be filed at the probate registry and upon satisfaction, the court will grant a letter of administration in Cameroon.
Article By: Barr. Mafany Victor Ngando
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.