WILLS, PROBATE AND THE NIGERIAN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY

When a person dies, he either dies testate (with a Will) or intestate (without a Will). A Will can be kept with the Solicitor, bank, or at the probate registry in the state of residence of the deceased.

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that directs the distribution of the assets of a person (called a testator) upon his/her death. The testator appoints executors who administer his/her estate (assets and property) and ensure that debts and creditors of the deceased are paid off and the left-over money or property distributed according to the last wishes of the deceased.

Wills are governed by the Wills Laws (as applicable) in the various Nigerian states. A will could be oral or written but for best practice it is always advised that it be written. (In Nigeria oral Wills are only valid in some states and not all states in the Federation). The Will describes and identifies the assets of the deceased, including liabilities (if included).

For a will to be valid it must satisfy all of the following or an interested party may challenge the legality of that Will in a court of competent jurisdiction.

  1. The testator must have been of sound mind
  1. The Will must have been made voluntarily
  2. The Will must be in writing (Typed or written)
  3. The Will must have been signed by the testator in the presence of at least two witnesses who must attest to same.
  4. The Will must identify the assets and beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate.
  5. It must name the beneficiaries.

Above all the person making this Will must be of legal age (18) at the time the Will was made.

A testator at making the Will appoints an executor in the Will whose duty is to manage and administer the estate of the deceased until it can be validly given to the beneficiary. Executors are supposed to carry out the wishes of the testator as stated in the Will and hold property in trust for the beneficiaries when necessary (in situations where the beneficiary is a minor).

What is a Letter of Administration?

Where a person dies without writing a Will a letter of administration is granted by the Probate Registrar of the state where the deceased passed on to enable these parties (minimum of two people) to manage, execute and administer the estate of the deceased. To get a letter of administration the executors will make a written application to the Probate registry. The Probate Registry is at liberty to choose the executors however  the office usually considers the provisions of the Law which states the order of distribution of an intestate’s assets with the spouse and children of the deceased person as first in line before any other party who is a family to the deceased.

In Lagos state to apply for a letter of administration the people applying must provide, A death certificate, Two passport photograph of each administrator, valid means of identification, the application forms for letters of administration consist of the following: bank certificate, application for letters of administration (without Will), oath for administration (without Will), administration bond (without Will), declaration as to next of kin form, inventory of assets form, particulars of freehold/leasehold properties left by the deceased, schedule of debts and funeral expenses.

Once the forms have been filled and a value of the assets declared is calculated, the assessment sheet/pay sheet is issued for the applicants to pay the probate fees. After payment is made, there is the publication of the Estate in a National daily newspaper. The purpose of the publication is to ensure that the public is aware that letters of administration will be issued to the applying administrators, in the absence of any opposition. This publication is an opportunity for the any member of the public to file a caveat or enter an opposition to the process, which will be upheld and referred to the court, if the basis of the opposition is substantial.

Where there is no opposition, after 21 days from the date of the publication, the process will continue by the preparation of the minutes and order.The minutes and order with the file will be passed to the Probate Judge for approval. After approval, the final letters of administration will be prepared and thereafter dispatched to the Probate Registrar to be signed and delivered to the applicants.

Importance of a Wills in the Nigerian Entertainment Industry

In an Industry that deals and revolves around Intellectual property. (Intellectual property is described as an intangible property) nonetheless does not make them any less a property that should be put in a Will.

  • You can keep your assets out of the hands of people you don’t want to have them. It makes your wishes known and the distribution of your assets will be according to the rules of intestacy.
  • Provide for those you choose: if you are not married, do not have a civil partnership, you cannot inherit your spouse or partner’s estate unless this person has a valid Will.
  • Protect your children.
  • Your heirs will have a faster and easier time getting access to your assets.
  • You can plan to save your estate money on taxes. You can also give gifts and charitable donations, which can help offset the estate tax.
  • Protect your estate from being contested. The interstate customary laws allow some certain person’s lay claims for provision from another person’s estate, even if the person never intended to care for them or leave them any asset or money. Making a Will, will greatly reduce chances of some person in your past rising up to claim they helped you become a star and soak garri when you did not have anything so they have to inherit from you now that you are dead and gone.
  • You can identify who should care for your children. Without a will, the courts will decide.
  • To eliminate the tedious process of getting a grant of letters of administration. If this takes too long sometimes the properties in the estate may have depleted.
  • Peace of mind. Knowing full well that everyone is taken care of and the testator has chosen people he/she deems right to execute and carry on their legacy. More importantly so the dead’s spirit can rest in peace and not receive curses daily.

Conclusively, nobody is too young or old to make a Will. Once you are 18 years or above, of sound mind and have any form of property (tangible or Intangible) no matter how little it is write it down and know that the people left behind will be happy you left something great for them that might in turn multiply.

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Fawehinmi Oyinkansola Esq.

Fawehinmi Oyinkansola aka The FozaDoza is synonymous to energy and passion. With keen interest in the entertainment and legal industrIes, Foza has been able to create a niche in both industries for herself. She obtained her LL.B and a Diploma in Security studies from the prestigious Babcock University Ilisan Remo, Ogun State. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2014.

She started out in the entertainment industry as Business manager for a school group called Pro Inc which became the favourite go to hip hop group in school. This spurred her passion for talent management and she has worked as a road manager at Monarc Talent Agency (an affiliate of Aristokrat Records), G- WorldWide Entertainment as business manager and currently is the General Manager at a 360 management company (Incubation Factory).

Her clientele spans across the music, film and telecommunications industries where she has effectively brokered license, distribution and endorsement deals. She has an impressive personal and professional relationships with all her clients which ensures she creates a comfortable working relationship. She leads the music and film divisions of the firm.

Foza is a vocal and passionate change agent, a non conformist and an adventurous risk taker. These traits have made her a known face as well as speaker on the most prestigious entertainment conferences stage. She strongly believes in integrity and is driven by family and legacy building. She has received numerous awards in relations to leadership and social activities.

Foza enjoys her live band music sessions, and a gathering of talented artiste anytime. She is the life of every party and has an excellent social skill.

Olumide Mustapha Esq.

Olumide Mustapha is a technology and entertainment attorney both in Nigeria and the UK. As an undergraduate he was a student of Sociology and economics at the University of Reading in the UK before embarking on his legal career by first qualifying – with Distinction – as a Solicitor from the College of Law UK, (and then practising for a period), with a particular focus on International Commercial Law,
Tax and Intellectual Property. Having been also called to the Nigerian Bar with Honours Olumide has since continued to focus on the areas of media, entertainment and technology law.

Olumide, in applying his vast legal and business knowledge in these sectors, has successfully initiated, negotiated and pushed through numerous transactions to the commercial benefit of clients. He has advised two of the “Big Three” global music labels on their planned entry into, and commercial strategy for, the Nigerian market; negotiated significant licensing agreements with a number of major Nollywood production houses and advertising agencies on behalf of a major music publishing company; consulted for one of the country’s biggest copyright collective management organisations; and worked with numerous technology start-ups in securing funding and scaling their businesses. Olumide is also the Chair of the Music Publishers Association of Nigeria.

On the back of such experience Olumide has also built over time a formidable network of contacts that allows his clients to enjoy a full suite of legal and business advisory services that include the ability to source funds, conveniently acquire/produce/licence valuable content, in addition to ensuring specialised due
diligence is carried out on all transactions and that good governance is practiced at all times; all with a keen understanding of the relevant market dynamics and client’s specific commercial objectives. Moreover, he has significant experience in litigation and has a lot of expertise in utilising the Nigerian court system to ensure client’s rights are protected and enforced at all times.

Never being one to shy away from sharing his professional thoughts, opinions, and analyses, Olumide is regularly featured in various media to provide his views and analysis on the legal and business issues surrounding the Nigerian entertainment and technology industries. Such media outlets include Channels TV, TVC, NigeriaInfo FM, Business Day, The Guardian, Techpoint Africa, and the African
Venture Capital Newsletter amongst others.

Olumide’s aim is to use his years of experience and expertise in international commercial and intellectual property law related matters, and strong network of contacts – both foreign and domestic – to contribute to the legal development of Nigerian enterprise structures and governance, and general business practice; thereby pushing the country closer towards fulfilling its socio-economic potential.

Iredumare Ojengbede Opeyemi

A graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University Nigeria (LLB) and University of Strathclyde, Glasgow (LLM) is a legal practitioner in Nigeria with over six years of experience in intellectual property, telecommunication and cyberspace Law.

He is a cyberspace, media and entertainment researcher with keen interest in Music, Film and Television, digital rights and personal data protection, intellectual property protection, creative financing, Media Advocacy and information literacy on the digital space. A cultured, informed and disciplined legal practitioner, who prides himself as a strategic solution executor, an expert in identifying root challenges and creating specific market/territory based solutions to cyberspace and digital challenges. He is always constantly seeking growth opportunities and self-improvement initiatives as a team player working in and for goal-oriented organizations.

Iredumare has spent the last two years facilitating multimillion naira deals for his clients across catalog licensing, catalog acquisition, intellectual property estate valuation as well as developing music business models for various value chain members in the African creative industry. Iredumare enjoys reading and having solution driven conversations with like minds.