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More on Wills Pt:2

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Some persons are afraid to distribute their property by way of deed of gift, as they afraid that the recipient might abandon them later on. They see a will as a form of security which would convey their wishes after death.{{more}} Others might not want to dispose of their property because they fear sibling rivalry and conflict during their life time. A will is a good safeguard for persons who do not want to dispose of their property during their life time. It is, however, important that the proper procedure be undertaken to make sure that the will is valid after death.

I bring you the Law on the execution of a will to offer some clarification of last week’s article on wills, in particular bullet point number five.

Section 12, Cap 384, of the laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Revised Edition, 1990, states :-

(1) No will shall be valid unless-

(a) it is in writing and signed by the testator or by some other person in his presence and by his directions.

(b) it appears that the testator intended by his signature to give effect to the will.

(c) the signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the time ; and

(d) each witness either-

(i) attests and signs the will; or

(ii) acknowledges his signature in the presence of the testator (but not necessarily in the presence of any other witness.)

According to Karen Nunuez Tesheria, in her book Non Contentious Probate Practice in the English Speaking Caribbean, “The witnesses must sign in the presence of the testator. However, with the exception of St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago they need not sign in the presence of each other.”

If after the will is witnessed by a person and that person thereafter is incompetent to be admitted as a witness, pursuant to Section 16 of the Wills Act, the will shall not on any account become invalid.

Gift could be void

A person who is a beneficiary under the will is advised not to sign as a witness to a will as he would not be able to claim the gift. Under section 17 of the Act the gift is void.

According to section 19 an executor could not be incompetent to be admitted a witness to prove the execution of a will or a witness to prove the validity or invalidity of a will.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]