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Ask Shade About Trusts: I Want My Siblings to Inherit Some of My Assets… But I Don’t Want My Wife to Know

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Ask Shade

Hello Shade,

My wife has been pestering me on this matter of Wills and I finally see reason with her. She has contacted our family lawyer, she wants us to combine assets and write a joint Will. The problem is I have assets she does not know about which I would like my siblings to inherit, since our children will be well catered for.

My siblings and my wife don’t get along too well and she’s not likely to welcome the idea of willing anything to them. I’m worried. Is there a way to bequest these assets without listing them? Does every asset have to be stated categorically in the Will? Is a joint Will even possible or advisable?

Roland, from Port Harcourt

***
Hello Roland,

Let me start by commending your wife’s futuristic attitude. You should appreciate her for insisting that you protect your assets in a Will. She wants the best for you and your children. You have raised a number of issues, I will attempt to tackle them one at a time.

First, a joint Will is one which is co-signed by two or more persons (usually a married couple), which combines their individual wishes. It may also be appropriate in a situation where you and your spouse own most of your assets jointly.

Is there a way to bequest these assets without listing them?
There are other ways of transferring assets without using a Will. A Trust may be used. A trust is an arrangement where an individual transfers what he owns to an independent person or entity for the benefit of identified persons or entities.

You can establish a Trust and transfer the assets you wish to transfer to your siblings to the Trust. You may name yourself and your siblings as the beneficiaries of the Trust and instruct that the assets in the Trust be transferred to your siblings by the Trustee upon your demise. Once those assets are in a Trust, there is no need to reflect them in your Will. A corporate Trustee such as ARM Trustees Limited can act as Trustee to the Trust and provide you with guidance on establishing it.

You may also consider gifting those assets to your siblings now so that they assume ownership immediately. This might not be an attractive option as you would immediately lose control of any such assets that you gift.

Does every asset have to be stated categorically in the Will?
Where another estate plan (such as a Trust) exists together with a Will, it is not necessary to mention the Trust assets in the Will because those assets and the beneficiaries are already catered for under the Trust.

There are other assets such as Life Insurance which you need not include in a Will as your beneficiaries would have been named in the policy document already.

Is a joint Will even possible or advisable?
Joint Wills are seldom used nowadays because of their likelihood of creating future problems. One of the biggest potential problems is that the surviving spouse would be unable to change the terms of the Will regardless of changes in situations after the death of his or her spouse. A typical example could be the inability of a surviving spouse to leave some of the assets of a Joint Will to his or her stepchild after remarriage.

Whatever option you choose eventually, writing a Will is not negotiable, especially with existing undertones of disagreement between your spouse and extended family. The assurance that everyone will be well catered for should the unexpected occur will give you unrivalled peace.

Folashade has a wealth of experience in legal structuring, capital markets, and financing transactions. Her expertise also spans Private Trust, and other succession/estate planning alternatives. Currently, she is Managing Director of ARM Trustees Limited, a subsidiary of the ARM Group charged with asset protection, wealth transfer and generally, succession and estate planning.

21 Comments

  1. Deleke

    March 29, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    I’m sorry o but this husband is wicked. Kilode? These siblings no get their own money? Aren’t they grown enough to be on their feet? This is the problem with African Mentality. Why didn’t you declare it to your wife since? Why must these assets go to your siblings?

    As for me, all my pensions, death-in-service benefits, assets etc are in 3 names as beneficiaries, you guessed right my WIFE and my 2 lovely boys….

    • Manny

      March 29, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      Deleke, your response is the typical knee-jerk reaction to such matters. There is nothing wrong with a man feeling responsible for his siblings and parents. Depending on their relationship and sacrifices that they may have made for him, there is nothing wrong with him wanting to gift them assets. As a woman, when I daydream about winning the lottery, my plans for spending include giving my siblings large sums of money and setting up educational funds for their kids. Mind you, my siblings are all doing well, so it’s not a case of “These siblings no get their own money” .
      I watched an episode of Property Brothers on HGTV where a man won the lottery and insisted to his partner that part of the money had to be used to also buy his sister a property, as she was divorced and caring for her children all by herself.
      In this situation, the wife doesn’t like his siblings. His siblings might be bad people but for all you know, the wife might be the bad person here. As long as the assets belong to him, he can go ahead and gift his siblings in his lifetime, so that everybody will remain in their lane.

    • Deleke

      March 29, 2018 at 6:26 pm

      Winning the lottery Is pure luck, acquring possessions is hard work. Buying the sister a house after winning is gifting, willing is after death. So if after he wills those possessions to his siblings and he dies and then they want to use several means to take all the other assets from his surviving wife (knowing our stupid culture in cases like this). What happens? Sorry your reasoning is in another bus route

    • yinka

      March 29, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      so what you are saying is people should not will their properties to anybody except their spouse and kids.

    • Manny

      March 30, 2018 at 12:31 am

      Well Deleke, feel free to stick to your one track reasoning. The man thinks the only way to give to his siblings is after his death. He has written to an expert who has suggested that he gives them in his lifetime or through a trust. He was ill-informed but I guess now he will reconsider how to go about this situation.
      But since you have refused to see the forest for the trees, all you are stuck on is – oh he wants to will to his family, he is a horrible man.
      And I fail to see how the source of wealth (whether through hard work or sheer luck) matters in the decision to gift your family members assets.
      Going by your previous comments on this blog, I would say you are letting your prejudices cloud your thinking.

    • Fleur

      March 30, 2018 at 12:42 am

      Just divorce your wife. You dont care about her. You are not in a marriage if you have secrets of this magnitude. She is slaving herself doing wifey and you are amassing wealth for your siblings. Are you without descendants? If you want to give them something, why not write a will transparently and let her know about it? You are hiding it because you plan on giving your siblings way more than what is acceptable. You are EVIL.

    • Emeka Paul

      April 1, 2018 at 11:33 pm

      Nice one Deleke….but I hope you have stated it somewhere and not just have that idea in ur mind. these relatives can be vicious ooo! Write it in your Will

  2. yinka

    March 29, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Wicked? I dont think there is anything wrong in giving a portion of your properties to you siblings or members of your extended family.

    • slice

      March 29, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      There’s nothing wrong. The wife doesn’t have to know everything. He has known his siblings all his life why shouldn’t he leave them something

  3. Deleke

    March 29, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    My point is he does not want his wife to KNOW!!! Such a man is wicked and can kill

    • jon snow

      March 29, 2018 at 2:48 pm

      Kill!!! haba that’s a tad dramatic.afterall women acquire and build properties without their spouse’s knowledge,such women are praised as been sharp and wise.I dont think they ended up murdering their husbands

    • yinka

      March 29, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      Kill!!! haba,that’s a bit dramatic.afterall women have acquired and built properties without their spouses’ knowledge,and i dont think they ended up killing the said spouses

  4. Anne

    March 29, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    Hmmm. I agree with Deleke. What kind of marriage is that. What else is he hiding. Wife had better be sure she is the only wife at this juncture. For most wise women, if they and their children are sufficiently settled, they will allow extended family to have something. Many men die young due to extra burdens and weight. Some relatives become very lazy because one of them is rich. Shame. Do you think begging is God’s way of sustaining you. When the man falls ill, wife and children will start running around. Men don’t be foolish. Let God guide you before you go earlier than scheduled. Better teach your relatives how to fish. Your children are yours o, not your brother’s. When bottom line issues come up, to thy tents oh Israel. Everybody will choose their own children. A word enough.

    • OJ

      March 29, 2018 at 4:20 pm

      All these things you’ve written hope you know same applies to the siblings of the wife? Or you didn’t read the part where his wife and siblings don’t get along? Such kind of wife I’m sure wouldn’t allow the hubby siblings come visiting the house, she would go the extra mile to cut of contact between her hubby and his peeps while ensuring her own siblings are catered for….I know her type, dem plenty for town

    • yinka

      March 29, 2018 at 5:36 pm

      perhaps his wife is not like most women

  5. Jane

    March 29, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Women. Pray and think. I see why my aunty insisted that her daughter should not marry a particular guy. Though he had a green card, education was not complete and he had plenty siblings. The girl is married to a different guy. He is the last born and his siblings are standing financially. Another woman has a proud brother in law who won’t even ask husband for money. Some women are fortunate, others are not. The woman is working 3 jobs so she has enough to save for herself and her children. God help us.

    • Engoz

      March 29, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      Lol, plenty siblings. It’s not only about the number of siblings, do they have something going on for themselves individually? This is why I can’t side with the wife in this. You can’t marry into certain families and start complaining afterwards. A well to do man amongst impoverished siblings is also poor. Family income will always be diverted to the siblings, because he cannot open his eyes and watch them suffer. I mean, who can blame him? If you don’t want such in your life, do your due diligence, research the family before you get married.

  6. John

    March 29, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    1) Deleke is woman pretending to be a man..I know their type here on BN..it s not new phenomenon. They do it so that they can be taken more seriously. Don’t be deceived.

    2)Writing a will is good but when a woman start pestering you for one..you better start asking yourself questions . .she is up to something…writing a will should be on your terms and state of mind.

    3) You can draft a will but it is not a must your wife must know what you have written. .. .it is between you and your trusted lawyer. .. a will can also be in video as to make it more iron-proof. The content of a will is only known when the writer is deceased. …unless you want a bounty on head.

  7. Smith

    March 29, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    He should be happy he has a nice wife.

  8. Sisi

    March 30, 2018 at 10:07 am

    This is all well and good – I believe the assets are solely yours and you acquired them before you married your wife. Otherwise sir despite any feelings your wife has towards your siblings if these are assets you both contributed to in some way since you’ve been married – whether she is a home maker and given you the ability to work without worrying about childcare, then you certainly need to discuss and inform her of your intentions. Hiding assets doesn’t sound like something that should be going on a health and happy marriage – that goes for hiding anything else in fact. Also please do think about what your family dynamics will look like if you were to die – would your wife and children be legally and culturally catered for?

  9. le coco

    March 30, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    I agree that the man is wicked. This is the type of African man that wants to die and let everyone deal with the mess he created… Why doesnt your wife like your siblings? perhaps it’s because they are too dependant on you?

    you can’t create a will or even a trust and not inform your wife because when you die all assets whether you like it or not, will come to light and when your wife sees your siblings with them or having meetings with the family lawyer she will be forced to believe that they forged said documents or the will to include themselves.. It will cause way too much drama in your absence.. it is unfair to your wife nd to your siblings.. Just do the right thing.. tell your wife.. if these assets were truly aquired before you married your wife then you have every right to give them to whomever and your wife may be angry but atleast she will be aware that truly you gave them to your siblings…. stop creating problems for others abeg

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