Nigeria: How To Claim The Money And Property Of A Dead Person

Last Updated: 16 January 2018
Article by Edoabasi Udo

This is a guide on how to claim the money in the bank as well as the movable and immovable assets of a deceased person who died testate (i.e. leaving a valid Last Will).

What You Should Note

When a testator (maker of a Will) dies, his entire estate is automatically vested in the Chief Judge of the State. Until probate is granted by the Probate Court, the executors (persons appointed by the testator to carry out his instructions as contained in the Will) cannot interfere with the estate of the testator, otherwise, they may face civil and criminal liabilities. Probate is the process of obtaining a legal document called Grant of Probate to administer the estate of a person who died leaving a Last Will lodged at the Probate Registry. Where the deceased appointed you as his Executor in his Last Will, you should seek to obtain a Grant of Probate.

When Can You Be Granted Probate?

Grant of Probate may be issued after seven days of the death of the testator.

Who Is Entitled to Grant of Probate over the Testators Estate?

The following is the order of priority of right to grant of probate in testate succession (i.e. where testator Will is annexed):

  1. The executor;
  2. Any residuary legatee holding in trust for any other person (that is, where the residuary estate is subject to a trust);
  3. Any residuary legatee or devisee for life;
  4. The ultimate residuary legatee or devisee, including one entitled on the happening of any contingency;
  5. Any specific legatee or devisee or creditor or their personal representative;
  6. Any specific legatee or devisee entitled on the happening of any contingency, or next-of-kin.

How Is Probate Granted?

When the testator dies, and his Will is discovered at the Probate Registry, you need to consult a Solicitor who will make a formal application to notify the Probate Registrar of the discovery of the Will. A date will be fixed for the reading of the Will. Thereafter, the Solicitor will make a fresh application either by Common Form or Solemn Form for the grant of Probate on your behalf.

When Should Application Be Brought by Common Form?

Application may be brought by Common Form in non-contentious cases where no caveat is likely to be entered by any interested party to protest the granting of probate to you or the other applicants. This indicates that all parties are satisfied that the Will is a true reflection of the wishes of the testator. Relevant documents will be filed at the registry. The payment of the prescribed fees will be made after an assessment of the estate conducted by the Probate Registrar and the executors. Upon satisfaction with the requirements, the Probate Registrar shall grant probate to the executor(s) with the Will attached to the probate.

When Should Application Be Brought by Solemn Form?

Application may be brought by Solemn Form in contentious cases where a caveat has been entered by an interested party (Caveator) to protest or oppose the granting of probate to you or the executor(s) named in the Will. This indicates that there is dispute regarding what document(s) should be admitted to probate; or dispute as to who is entitled take out a grant of probate; or dispute as to whether a grant should be revoked. Your Solicitor shall issue a Warning to the Caveator(s) and a writ for the Probate Court to determine the merit or otherwise of the caveat for the purpose of granting or refusing the Grant of Probate.

What Documents May be Required for the Grant of Probate?

You will have to give details of the identity of the testator by stating his name, date of birth, address, profession, marital status, names of spouse and children; the date and place of the death of the testator; name of executors, if any, in the Will. You will present the originals of the following documents to your Solicitor:

  1. Death Certificate of the testator
  2. Passport photographs and valid means of identification of the applicants and witnesses to the Will.

Your Solicitor will procure the following documents and file same at the Probate Registry:

  1. Application Letter
  2. Oath of Administration by Executors
  3. Administration Bonds
  4. Statutory Affidavit of the attesting witnesses of the Will
  5. Inventory of moveable and immovable assets of the testator
  6. Schedule of Debts owed by the deceased
  7. Oath or Justification of sureties
  8. Particulars of freehold/leasehold property left by the testator.
  9. Schedule of Funeral Expenses of the deceased
  10. Bank or Share Certificate (showing the balances of the deceased's bank account(s) or company shareholding, respectively).

Upon compliance with the conditions precedent for the grant of probate; dismissal of the caveat (if any) and the payment of the prescribed fees, the Probate Registrar shall grant probate to the applicant.


Grant of Probate confirms your authority as the executor or co-executor of the testator's estate. Thus, even where you are one of the named executors in the testator's will, it is not automatic for you and the co-executors to tamper with the estate of the deceased in any manner. It is illegal to do so and you may be liable for prosecution for both civil and criminal charges. No part of the estate should be tampered with or distributed until the Grant of Probate is issued through an Order of the Chief Judge of the State who is the head of the Probate Court.

Obtaining the Grant of Probate is, however, a very rigorous process, fraught with procedural and technical complexities. It is important you seek legal guidance and help from a Solicitor who will assist you to apply and obtain probate with ease, devoid of the problems and frustration associated with that process.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions