When a person dies, they either die testate or intestate. A person dies testate when he or she wrote and left a valid will concerning the distribution of his or her property upon their death.
Leaving a will directly affects your descendants and inconveniences can be prevented by your foresight:
- You get to decide to whom your property will be given.
- Family conflicts can be avoided.
- Since you name all your properties, a loss of property out of not knowing can be avoided.
- Since the executor is a person you trust, mismanagement of the estate is likely to be avoided.
- If no last will is made, letting other persons apply for the Letters of Administration might jeopardize the interests of some or all the beneficiaries, such as minor beneficiaries.
JCU assists persons to write their will.
Requirements of a valid will:
- It must be in writing, and state the particulars of the person making it.
- The will must be dated since the date is usually the point of reference as to its validity.
- The beginning of the will should state that it revokes all others. If you have an earlier will, you should destroy it.
- The person making the will (testator) must have a sound mind.
- The testator must have made the will voluntarily and without pressure from anyone else.
- The will should detail the assets and liabilities of the testator as well as all family members and dependents if any.
- The will should show how the testator intends to dispose of their assets and sort out their liabilities.
- The will should provide for the heir or heiress.
- It should also appoint a person to take action as per the testators wishes – the executor.
- The will must be signed by the testator.
- The will must be witnessed by 2 or more witnesses.
IMPORTANT: Beneficiaries of the will, their spouses or civil partners shouldn’t act as witnesses, or they lose their right to the inheritance! Beneficiaries shouldn’t even be present in the room when the will is signed. It’s also best not to ask an executor to act as a witness.
Changes in your will must be made when …
- you acquire more property or lose property.
- you get married.
- you divorce and/ or remarry.
- you want to change the heir/heiress or the original heir/heiress has died.
- a person who was given a share in your will dies.
- one of your witnesses dies.
- you or your wife gives birth.
Important facts you need to know:
- Every person above 18 years can make a will but must be of sound mind to make one.
- A person can make an entirely new will or make slight alterations to the old one through an addition to your will (codicil). All correct legal steps/ requriements should be taken to make the will legally acceptable.
- Marriage makes an existing will void which means that you must always make another will when you marry.
- Always make 2-3 copies of your will and give it to persons you trust (friend, family, bank, lawyer, insurance company, LC official, elder, religious leader, etc.) for safe keeping. The person must make the last will known immediately after your death.
- It is illegal to steal, conceal, destroy or forge a will! All these are offenses and are punishable by imprisonment for up to ten years or more.
For more information and support contact JCU on our toll-free lines!
Legal Sources – Succession Law:
The law applicable to succession in Uganda is: