HOW TO RECOVER PROPERTY OF THE DEAD IN NIGERIA. (A legal guide on Probate Matters in Nigeria)



A righteous man leaves inheritance for his off springs says the holy book.  We all must die someday but what we may leave are our off springs, legacies, assets, liabilities, problems we solved and those we created. The death of a person is not the death of his/her property, assets and liabilities. The death of loved ones and breadwinners is not a launch into poverty and misery. No one dies with his assets (anything that adds to wealth) and liabilities (anything that reduces wealth) rather such is left for the good of the living. It is the right of the living to take over ownership and administration of the assets and property even the liability of the dead (deceased). Whether a deceased died leaving a WILL (testate) or without a WILL (intestate) his property must be owned and managed by the living. Now, the question is who should legally manage and benefit from the property of a dead in Nigeria?

 When a person dies his property devolves on his/her survivors (in this order; wife/husband, children, father, mother, brothers, sisters, uncles and nephews) except where there is a written WILL.  The law has provided a yardstick for determining which of the survivors would benefit first and procedures for taking ownership of the property of a deceased. This protects the interest of the survivors from the greedy claws of relatives and gold diggers. This article is to guide you on how to obtain legal right over the property (lands, shares, houses, stores, parks, cars, jewelleries, businesses, machines, insurance, pension/death benefit and money in bank, etc ) of a deceased (dead parent(s), child, sibling, relatives, friends and debtors etc).  Property of a dead person can only be recovered through obtaining a Grant of Probate or a Letter of Administration or a strict adherence to non repugnant customs. This publication is better titled; “A Legal Guide on Probate and Administration of Estates”.  To appreciate this publication, please read my earlier publication tiled; “HOW TO WRITE YOUR WILL”.


Even in hell there is order, so is in taking over the property of a dead; there are laid down procedures. In every death, there must be either of these two; a deceased who died with a WILL (testate) or a deceased who died without a WILL (intestate). In either cases there are laid down steps to recovering property of such a dead person. The steps will be treated below under two different headings; “Where there is a valid WILL” and “Where there is no valid WILL”.


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Onyekachi Umah

Onyekachi Umah is a private Legal Practitioner with amazing experience in human right, criminal law and civil law including; pre-trial detention, human rights enforcement, intellectual property, transaction and regulation advisory, corporate, commercial, investment law and energy law as well as litigation and arbitration arising from them. He is a Legal Awareness Expert and also a Certified Arbitrator both in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) and a Certified Conflict Management Practitioner and Negotiator. He is a member of prestigious “Young ICSID” of International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), Washington DC. Among other, he has a certificate in Law of Contract from a program of Harvard University, a certificate in International Environmental Negotiation from United Nations Institute for Training and Research, Geneva and recently, a certificate in Conflict Management from United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C. He also holds a master of laws degree and he is a doctoral student at the faculty of law, NSUK. 

Onyekachi is the managing partner of a leading law firm; Bezaleel Chambers International. He is the founder and President of a free law awareness platform known as that promotes awareness and understanding of rights and laws of Nigeria (#SabiLaw) and offers free daily law tips (#DailyLawTips). Understanding the challenges of Administration of Criminal Justice in Nigeria, he dedicates his daily law tips every Mondays to promoting Criminal Justice (#CriminalJusticeMonday). Recently, he started a new series on Election Laws tagged (#SabiElectionLaws) to increase legal awareness on elections laws, policies and regulations in Nigeria. He is the convener of the Sabi Law Lecture Series (#SabiLawLectureSeries), travelling around Nigeria delivering free law awareness lectures. He also organises and sponsors a quarterly competition, titled "Sabi Law Video Challenge" (#SabiLawVideoChallenge) where Nigerians win money (over $130.00 per winner) for making videos of themselves talking on any law or right as a way to promote law awareness and have fun. To further promote legal awareness among Nigerians across the world, he started a law awareness show titled "Sabi Law With Onyekachi Umah, Esq" (#SabiLawWithOnyekachiUmahEsq) showing on social media platforms via @LearnNigerianLaws.   

Mr. Umah has written over Four Hundred (400) free to access articles and materials on law with a desire to enlighten the public. He is also on the board of companies and non government organisations. Among others, he is serving as a member of the Advisory Committee for Law Clinics Partnership for Reforming Pre-trial Detention in Kuje Prison Project funded by the United States Department Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. He is an executive member of the Pre-Trial Curriculum and Handbook Review Committee. For more selfless service, is a member of the Rotary Club of Abuja, Metro (RCAM), District 9125. He was featured as the Legal Personality of the Week by This Day Newspaper (a leading national newspaper) on its September 11, 2018 edition and was also featured on the as the Legal Personality of the Week on November 14, 2018. He has won several honours and awards for his innovative legal practise across the world.



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+1 # Obasi Christogonus 2016-10-02 12:45
Awesome. thanks a lot for this informative article.
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+1 # Adedigba Anthonia 2016-10-02 12:58
thanks for the lovely piece.
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