I have noticed a particular trend that seems to be flying around all over Nigeria. It is palpably obvious that many Nigerians would never make a will because of their irrational fear that making a will means that their death date is fast approaching. So, the average Nigerian has a petrifying fear of having to make a will for the disposition of their properties upon the time of their deaths.
Stemming from the above, a lot of estates have no wills covering them. Then, when the owner of the estate dies, the personal representatives of the deceased will start asking several questions like : ‘How do I recover the money my father had in so-and-so bank?’
The above question seems to be the predominant preoccupation with many people across several social media sites and forums like Nairaland.
I read all these and I shake my head at the ignorance of many people, some of whom will claim that they have been trying to recover the money a loved one had in a particular Nigerian bank, all to avail. And why should they? After all, there is no banker-customer relationship existing between them and the banks, hence, effectively blockading any chances they have of making such recovery without having recourse to due process.
WHAT TO DO?
When a relation dies, and the personal representatives of that deceased persons knows that the deceased has some sums of money with any Nigerian bank, then that is no cause for alarm. DO NOT walk into any bank, expecting them to remit the funds in the bank account of your father or mother simply because of the fact that you were his/her son/daughter. The banking system does not work that way. There are regulations that govern their activity and they must follow those regulations to the letter.
STEPS TO RECOVER THE MONEY OF A DEAD RELATIVE FROM A NIGERIAN BANK
When a person dies, and the deceased person’s family is sure that such person has undisclosed sums of money in any Nigerian bank, then there are certain procedures to follow in order to recover the said sums of money. DO NOT, on the grounds that you know the ATM card code number of the person, walk to any available ATM, slot the card in, and start making withdrawals. That will simply not do; your actions are illegal. Also, what if the sums in the account name runs to the millions? How will you recover them then? By walking to the ATM everyday of your life, inserting the card of the deceased customer, and then making countless withdrawals from the account under the hot sun while the other customers watch you? No? I don’t think so too.
So, what to do to recover the money of a deceased relative who died intestate from the bank:
After you have had the time to mourn the passing of the relative, then, if there is a will, the executors will obtain probate at the Probate registry of the court in the location of the domicile of the deceased and then commence the dissolution of the estate.
Where the person died intestate_ without making a last will and testament for the purpose of the dissolution of his estate_ then the personal representatives will apply to the court for the issuance of letters of administration. NB: it is always better to consult your legal practitioner for the necessary legal advise so that you will not be operating blindly.
After the letters of administration has been obtained and the necessary fees paid on the estate to the requisite department in the court, then the appointed administrators and/or administratrix of the estate of the deceased person will now commence the recovery of the assets in the estate of the deceased
The administrators and/or administratrix of the estate will take the letters of administration (which is the prima evidence of the fact that they have the requisite authority to dispose of the estate) to the bank(s) where the deceased had accounts.
Then they will recover the money from the Nigerian bank account of the estate of the deceased.
FINAL NOTE: Nigerians face a lot of seemingly insurmountable problems when it comes to the recovery of the assets of their deceased loved ones, particularly if they had no idea that the properties existed in the first place. But with a little foresight and legal guidance, they can avoid all these pitfalls.
©2017 By Ani Kingsley Ugochukwu LP
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