Having a legacy that transcends an immediate next generation to several generations, is indeed a phenomenal value. The concept of inheritance and trans-generational wealth is as old as the history of the existence of man, since we all came with nothing and will return with nothing!
A pertinent question however is – “does inheritance require any form of planning” since it goes without saying that one’s loved ones or dependents/survivors are usually on standby to take over? On the heels of this question is another that – should a man concern himself with what happens to his earthly possessions after his demise? Well, maybe no, but while everyone is desirous of having a legacy, would anyone be proud of having a legacy of a discordant family or dependents? It is doubtful.
It therefore goes without saying that everyone must ask themselves and be able to answer these questions-
- What do I own?
- When do I give?
- Who do I give?
- What do I give?
- How do I give?
Planning in this manner requires a person to ascertain their assets to the last item and to be clear without any ambiguity as to who they wish to give what. Even worse still are cases of perceived planning that still go awry. There are several news on the internet which allude to the endless disputes on the wills of great men who lived in Nigeria.
Emameh Gabriel stated in his article titled – “Wills of discord: families at loggerheads over inheritance” on – https://leadershipng.com – on March 23, 2019 that – “Best thriller writer, Brabazon Raymond, who wrote under the pen name, James Hardly Chase, could probably have written one of his bestselling thriller books from the prolonged battles that have engulfed these families and even others who have yet to gain publicity as seen in cases of some moguls in Nigeria.”
An article on pmnewsnigeria.com on December 10, 2012 titled “Wills of Discord” by Eromosele Ehbomele tells of the difficulty some prominent Nigerian families are facing administering wills left by their parents with particular reference to – i. a very lavish one time Minister in the immediate post-independence government of Nigeria, late Festus Okotie-Eboh; ii. the great Biafra lord, Ikemba Nnewi, late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu; iii. the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 elections, late MKO Abiola; iv. Legal Icon, late FRA Williams; and v. human rights activist, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
These are a few of the several known cases of such disputes over the distribution of assets of a deceased paterfamilias.
Casting one’s mind on the issues leading to the very many disputes which arise on the distribution of assets of a deceased person further underscores the importance of not just making a plan, but ensuring the plans are effective and suitable for the peculiarities of the particular family. All “I”s must be dotted and all “T”s must be crossed.
Perhaps the reluctance to set one’s affairs in order in this manner is because it brings the thought of the inevitability of death. While this may be true, there are several ways of such setting affairs in order that may not directly point to the expectation of death, but have a focus more on the orderly application of a person’s wealth even while they are alive.
In the coming weeks, we will shed more light on the several ways of transfer and transmission of assets stating the pros and cons of each method in the Nigerian parlance and how to address those seeming downsides of each method. These methods include – Wills, Living Trusts, Power of Attorney and Family Offices.
One thing that must not be forgotten is the general saying that “to fail to plan is to plan to fail.”