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Hi Shade,
I need your help to save my marriage. I ran into an old friend who bitterly recounted her ordeal in the hands of her in-laws after her husband’s unexpected death. I was greatly disturbed by her story, I kept wondering what would happen to us if anything happened to my husband. I run a small business, but my husband mostly provides for our welfare and the children’s education. So, I asked him if he was thinking of writing a Will as nobody knows tomorrow.

He has been angry with me since then and has refused to eat anything I cook, claiming if I don’t have plans to kill him, I wouldn’t be talking about a Will when he is barely forty years old and has not even built a house.

Please Shade, is he too young to have a Will? Can one put small things like share certificates, land, bank account, pension funds in a Will? If so, how can I convince him to write a Will?
Lagos, Nigeria.

Hello Benita,
I can imagine what you are going through. Your situation is not at all peculiar, we deal with cases like this a lot – women encountering obstacles in their attempt to propel their husbands towards estate planning. However, the widespread misconception has led many to erroneously assume that Wills are for the extremely wealthy, aged, or polygamous.
Planning your Estate (or distribution of your assets after demise) is a very good decision and you do not need to be rich before doing so. A Will can include assets such as your bank accounts, retirement savings account (pension funds), investments, real estate, shares and many other assets.

You may explain to your husband that a Will doesn’t mean unexpected death, a Will is in fact more about attaining peace of mind than preparing for death as it prevents assets from being subject to the rules of intestacy, native laws and customs and religious practices. Writing a Will ensures that one’s wishes are carried out and assets are distributed to loved ones and dependents as you wish thereby reducing the likelihood of conflicts and dispute amongst surviving family members.

Bear in mind that even at the age of 21, one can write a valid Will, so your husband is not too young to write a Will. Writing a Will also enables surviving family members to be able to identify and recover all the personal assets that a person might have accumulated over the years but which no one else may be aware of – such as bank accounts and investment accounts.

Wills are something most people are afraid to talk about. It might not be so easy to convince your husband from the onset because it is a very sensitive topic. However, you might want to find a time he is relaxed and in a good mood and talk to him about the advantages of a Will. You should also let your husband know that designating a next of kin does not automatically transfer assets to that person.

Furthermore, you should consider writing your own Will also at the same time that he is writing his. This should not only give him comfort, but also assure you as to your children’s wellbeing should anything happen to you. Since you have a business, however small, it is wise for you to take steps towards organising your estate as well.

If it seems like you are not able to convince him at first, do not fret, building trust and changing perception takes time. Keep at it, as lovingly as you can and hopefully, you’ll succeed. Regarding his refusal to eat meals at home, perhaps you can convince him of his safety by sharing the meal with him. Since you are not likely to poison yourself, he should be convinced the food is safe if you eat together, from the same plate.

I wish you all the best, I am certain your marriage will survive this little hurdle.

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