• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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A case for uniform probate and estate administration in Nigeria

A case for uniform probate and estate administration in Nigeria

Probate and Estate Administration in Nigeria is a standard legal process in all states before representative(s) of an estate can administer the assets of a deceased relative. However, each state in Nigeria has different law and process on probate and estate administration. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, almost all the laws applicable to each asset have general and common application.

The various government agencies and others apply and adhere to a uniform standard. These, among other reasons, are why I believe there must be a uniform probate and estate administration in Nigeria.

Why probate and estate administration should be uniform in Nigeria

Nigeria has one constitution regardless of the right of each state to make laws regulating certain activities within their states. It is cumbersome and unnecessary waste of resources for each state to have independent and separate laws on probate and estate administration.

While the value of each asset, cost of probate and estate administration process, and economic realities of each state must be well considered. A uniform probate and estate administration would be prudent, efficient, and effective.

There would be certainties among probate and estate administration practitioners, representatives of estates, and other stakeholders. It would ensure steady and uniform growth in probate and estate administration. It may ensure, soonest too, the digitization and synchronization of probate and estate administration applications, and processing across the states.

A state probate registry would easily receive, approve, and monitor the probate and estate administration application in another state. Likewise, individuals and organizations can apply, file, verify, monitor probate and estate administration process from another state without leaving their state.

Assets and representatives of estates can easily be monitored and supervised without stress. They can also give quick accounts. It would also open the probate and estate administration to healthy competitions. The response and delivery time by the various probate registries would improve.

The probate and estate administration practitioners would also align themselves with positive improvements, widen the scope of services they offer, and create more jobs. Estate representatives would have access to quick and quality information. Presently, only Lagos State has moved almost all its activities online. Most states do not have a simple system for registration in their probate registry office much less of digitization of the documents.

How to ensure uniform probate and estate administration in Nigeria

The various states, starting with a very few, should have a committee to review current probate and estate administration in their states vis as vis the most advanced, efficient, and effective of them all. With a view to considering a gradual integration of their various probate registries into a uniform practice.

Thereafter, observations and solutions to identified problems should be made a subject of legislation and implemented by each state. A uniform law, documentation, and process should be adopted and implemented by the various states. Each state would be responsible for putting systems in place, training staff, and other resources for the uniform practice.

Also, each state should adopt technology. This would aid probate and estate administration, reduce cost on the representatives of estate and government, improve revenue etc.

Possible challenges

The challenges that would be encountered in the process of making a uniform probate and estate administration in Nigeria may be limited to manpower and resources in putting necessary technology in place. Also, the political will and process for achieving this maybe lacking too.

The various laws related to the various assets are mostly the same and applied in all states in Nigeria. For instance, the Pension Reform Act 2014 applies to pension. It is implemented in all states in Nigeria and to all persons.

The law specified relevant organizations to approach, how they should treat pension claims, what is required from the representatives of estate etc – more like a uniform standard to make a successful claim to pension of a deceased by the representatives.

This is similar for monies in bank. The various banking laws govern access to monies in bank and they are applicable across Nigeria. The Land Use Act regulates land acquisition and use across Nigeria. No state has its own Land Use Act.

Likewise, the Nigerian Insurance Act has put some standards in place for insurance policy claims. The Securities and Exchange Commission have similar standards for claiming shares and stocks. Also, it regulates activities of registrars and stockbrokers.

Read also: Understanding real estate appraisal and valuation

These uniform standards have attracted heavy investment from the private sectors in these areas, improved legislations, and performance of the various regulatory agencies. This is likely to happen too if there is a uniform probate and estate administration in Nigeria.

Unlike the other sectors of the Nigerian economy, the probate and estate administration sector is largely unregulated. This is why the probate and estate administration business itself is open to all persons and organizations.

There are also little or no data on the contributions of that sector in terms of revenue, employment generation etc to each state. While there are also no data in the public domain on the level or amount of probate activities engaged in by the various probate registries.

There are also a huge number of assets unclaimed. A lot of beneficiaries are also untraceable. While government is ensuring shares and stocks are well managed, accounted for and not used by undeserving individuals, this cannot be said of landed properties wasting away unused.

A uniform probate and estate administration in Nigeria would definitely develop the sector and improve the process.