Cynthia’s Story: What if a loved one passes on without making a plan for you?


Cynthia lived a charmed life. That was until her husband died.

She tells her story on our Legacy Series Radio show:

My husband was a steel merchant. As a result, he had plenty disposable income. It wasn’t until his death that I realized he had a child from another woman. Although, where we lived until his death was ours, the property came into contention when my in-laws insisted on selling the property and splitting the proceeds among his siblings. The children and I had to move into a family friend’s BQ in Ajah where we barely survive. The ground has literally been swept from under my feet. Please Mofoluke. I need your help, I know of one asset my husband owned which neither his people nor his mistress is aware of. Please what can I do about claiming it? My husband left no will or Estate Plan that I know of. – Cynthia

Cynthia’s story is not uncommon among Nigerian women, and because it is so common, there is a legal framework that addresses it.

When an individual dies without a Will, his/her loved ones need to immediately apply for a Letter of Administration. As a surviving spouse, Cynthia is legally permitted to apply for a Letter of Administration.

A Letter of Administration empowers a named individual to administer or sell the Estate of a deceased person.

In the above case study, as no Will or any other form of Estate Plan was put in place by the deceased, anyone that lays claim to the estate of the deceased without a letter of administration, does so illegally.

Individuals seeking to obtain a Letter of Administration need to do so at the Probate Registry of the High Court.

A notable complication in Cynthia’s case is that her deceased husband had a child with another woman. Legally, regardless of a child’s heritage, he/she is entitled to benefits from the deceased’s Estate.

Widows that find themselves in situations similar to Cynthia’s above should consult Estate Planning experts, like FBN Trustees, who will assist them in navigating these kind of processes without bias.

In Nigeria, there exist certain cultural and/or psychological reservations that restrain individuals when it comes to Estate Planning. Experiences similar to Cynthia’s above, stress the need for having an Estate Plan in place to address existing or potential wealth transfer challenges. The following are some of the vehicles that FBN Trustees could have recommended to families like Cynthia to ensure seamless wealth transfer in the case of inevitability:

  • Business Succession Plan: This would have enabled the deceased outline his desires on the future administration or sale of his business.
  • Living Trust: This is a legal arrangement that would have allowed the deceased to transfer the management of his assets to another entity (a Trustee) for the benefit of named beneficiaries.
  • Children Education Trust: The Children Education Trust would have been the perfect arrangement for the deceased to secure the education of his children, including those born outside marriage.
  • Will: This would have enabled the deceased specify which assets he owns and how he wanted them distributed among his intended beneficiaries.
  • If there is one conclusion that should be drawn from all the above, it is that everyone should have an Estate Plan. This is where FBN Trustees comes in; to help make the wealth transfer process seamless.

    A member of the reputed FBN Holdings Group, we are a team of experts who have in-depth industry knowledge, local awareness and relevant experience, having helped develop wealth transfer plans for families and businesses over several decades.

    Start building your legacy today. Contact FBN Trustees to schedule a consultation.

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