Understanding the Various Types of Wills in Nigeria

Nuelson Penuel Saturday, October 21, 2023 Basis



A will is a legal document that allows an individual to express their wishes regarding how their assets and estate should be distributed after their demise. In Nigeria, the creation of a will is vital to ensure that your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes and to minimize disputes among family members. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the different types of wills recognized in Nigeria, empowering individuals to make informed decisions when planning their estates.

1. Standard Will:

The standard will, also known as a simple or express will, is the most common type of will in Nigeria. It allows you to clearly outline how you want your assets to be distributed among your beneficiaries, appoint an executor to handle your estate, and express any specific wishes or conditions. To create a standard will, you need to be of sound mind, write your will in your own handwriting, sign it, and have two or more witnesses sign it as well.

2. Joint Will:

A joint will is a document created by two or more individuals, typically spouses, to distribute their assets in a combined manner. The joint will outlines how the assets will be divided after the death of both parties. It is important to note that joint wills may not be altered or revoked by one party after the other's passing, hence careful consideration is necessary before opting for a joint will.

3. Mutual Will:

Similar to a joint will, a mutual will is created by two or more individuals, often spouses, who agree on the distribution of their individual assets upon their deaths. However, unlike a joint will, a mutual will allows each party to alter or revoke their own will during their lifetime. The main advantage of mutual wills is that they offer a higher level of protection for the surviving party, as changes to the arrangement can only be made with the consent of all parties involved.

4. Conditional Will:

A conditional will is a type of will that comes into effect based on specific conditions or events occurring. For example, an individual may devise their property to a particular beneficiary on the condition that they get married or complete their education. Conditional wills are often used to maintain control over the distribution of assets and encourage certain behaviors or achievements. It is essential to clearly establish the conditions and ensure they are enforceable under Nigerian law.

5. Testamentary Trust Will:

A testamentary trust will is a type of will that establishes trusts for beneficiaries which come into effect upon the testator's death. With this arrangement, assets can be held in trust and managed on behalf of the beneficiaries, particularly if they are minors, until specified conditions are met. Testamentary trusts are useful for providing ongoing financial support or protection for beneficiaries.

6. Holographic Will:

A holographic will is a handwritten will created and signed by the testator without witnesses. In Nigeria, holographic wills are recognized but are subject to certain restrictions and conditions. For a holographic will to be valid, it must be entirely handwritten by the testator, indicate their clear intention to distribute their assets after death, and bear the testator's signature. It is advisable to have witnesses to strengthen the validity of the will.


Creating a will is a crucial step in estate planning, enabling individuals in Nigeria to have control over the distribution of their assets and provide for their loved ones even after their demise. Understanding the different types of wills available, including standard wills, joint wills, mutual wills, conditional wills, testamentary trust wills, and holographic wills, allows individuals to choose the most suitable option based on their circumstances and desired outcomes. Seeking advice from a legal professional during the will creation process is highly recommended to ensure compliance with Nigerian laws and regulations.

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