Statutory limitations to testamentary freedom in Nigeria: A comparative appraisal
In Nigeria, a person when alive often has the freedom to dispose of his property to whomever he chooses. However, when he dies, limits have been put upon that freedom by legislation in some states of the country, when he has made a will concerning the disposition of his estate. These restrictions to testamentary freedom are often justified on cultural, religious, moral and social grounds. This paper appraises these limits to testamentary freedom in Nigeria, while comparing it with the positions in England, Ghana and South Africa. The question as to whether or not the limitations to testamentary freedom are justified is also considered in the paper. The paper finds that some limitations whilst worthy ideals and thus justified, could bring about unrealistic and impracticable results while some totally take away freedom from the testator. The paper recommends that a balance between the wishes of the testator and following the strict letter of the statutes as to the limitations be found so as to as much as possible, give effect to the desires of the deceased testator as stated in his will.
Keywords: Testamentary freedom, Testator, Will; Igiogbe, Succession