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Ask Shade About Trusts: My Uncle Is Wrongfully Occupying the Land Our Grandfather Left Us

By May 9, 2019 No Comments

Ask Shade About Trusts: My Uncle Is Wrongfully Occupying the Land Our Grandfather Left Us

Hello Shade,

Please help me. My grandfather left my brother and I property in our home town. Although we were young when his Will was read, my grandmother lived much longer, and she took us to see the property. Now that we are old enough to use the property, we discovered one of my uncles has since occupied it. All attempts by my dad and other uncles to reason with him have been futile. Since there was a Will, there must be something we can do. How can we reclaim the property? My brother and I intend to start a farm there.

Bode, Ibadan

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Dear Bode,
You are quite fortunate to have had a grandfather who cared for you enough to leave you something substantial. And your desire to invest in agriculture is also very admirable. Consider this situation a little hurdle on your way to achieving your dreams.

According to your story, your grandfather had written a Will leaving you and your brother his property. Whenever an individual writes a Will, one of the most important questions one must ask is, “who would be responsible and trustworthy enough to carry out my wishes when I pass?”. The individuals appointed to carry out these wishes are called the “Executors” to the Will.

Once a person dies and his Will has been read, the Executors must file for a probate grant at the probate court. Probate refers to the legal process of validating a Will. Once the grant is received, this unlocks the assets and distribution can commence. Because the executors have several responsibilities and can be held personally responsible if they are not properly carried out, it is important to carefully consider appointing executors who are trustworthy and capable of carrying out the sometimes-complicated processes.

Surely, your grandfather appointed executors to his Will. Some questions may likely arise:
1. Are the executors still living?
2. Did they carry out and successfully complete the probate process?
If the answers to the above questions are positive, the first step to reclaiming your rightful property would be to urge the executors to effectively discharge their responsibilities to your grandfather by executing a vesting assent, a document in which the transfer of title to you and your brother would be effected and documented. You may then proceed to register the vesting assent at the land’s registry in the State where the property is located as proof of your title to the land. Once you hold title, you may subsequently evict your uncle from the property by a suit at the court of law.

I would however, counsel that prior to effecting an eviction, please try to use all non-formal means possible for reaching an amicable resolution for your uncle to vacate the property. This may ensure that relationships amongst your family members remains warm and cordial.

My best wishes to you and your brother as you start your farm.

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