A Deed of Assent is a document or instrument of the Executor or legal Administrator of an estate to transfer, pass over or vest a legal interest or title in a property of a deceased person to the named beneficiary in a Will or any other third party. It grants the beneficiary legal ownership over a gift that has been given by a Will. The Administration of Estate Laws of each State of the Federation govern and regulate the estates of a deceased person.
It is important to state that a will in itself cannot confer title or ownership on a beneficiary, it is just a legal document that expresses how the assets of a testator will be shared upon death. A deed of assent serves the purpose of conferring legal ownership of a gift in a will on the named beneficiaries or a third party by Executors or Administrators of an estate. Where a deed of assent has been duly executed in favour of the beneficiaries, a third party cannot subsequently lay claims to the properties that have been duly passed on to the intended beneficiaries.
Effect of an Assent in Lagos State
Section 40 of the Administration of Estate Law of Lagos State provides for the effect of assent by the personal representative. It states that “a personal representative may assent to the vesting in any person who either by devise, bequest, devolution, appropriation or otherwise, may be entitled to, either beneficiary or as a trustee or personal representative, of any estate or interest in real estate to which the testator or interstate was entitled or over which he exercised a general power of appointment by his will and which devolved upon the personal representative”.
From the above-cited section, it can be adduced that a beneficiary cannot lay claim to the share of an estate of a deceased until the Executors or Administrators give their assent in writing to the vesting of the property.
Conditions of a valid Assent
A deed of assent to the vesting of a legal estate must meet the following conditions before it can be valid. These conditions as provided in Section 40 (4) of the Administration of Estate Laws of Lagos State are as follows;
- The assent must be in writing;
- It must be duly signed by all personal representatives or executors;
- The property in relation to which the assent is granted must be .certain and;
- The beneficiary in whose favour it is given must be stated.
An assent not in writing or not in favour of a named person shall not be effectual to pass a legal estate.
Application for the Registration of a Deed of Assent
Ordinarily, a deed of assent is not a registrable instrument because stamp duty is not paid on it, however, where the subject property vested to a beneficiary in a will concerns real property, it is to be registered at the appropriate land registry where the property is located to inform the state and the public that the ownership in the property has changed.
The Directorate of Land Registry, Lands Bureau of Lagos State, has provided a checklist of the requirement for its registration. These requirements are as follows;
- An application letter addressed to the Registrar of Titles requesting to register a deed of assent with a functional phone number and email address.
- Two copies of the deed of assent, which must be dated, signed and each page initialled.
- Passport photographs of all the administrator/executors to be attached to the deed.
- The front cover of the deed must be signed and sealed by the solicitor who prepared the deed.
- A certified true copy of the root of the title.
- A certified true copy of the letter of administration/ Will.
- A sworn affidavit deposed to by the administrators/executors attesting to the vesting.
- Original for sighting and one copy of the valid means of identification of all the administrators/executors.
- Payment receipts.
A Deed of Assent is so important in the devolution of the estate of the deceased. The title in a property cannot pass to the intended named beneficiary or any third party without a duly executed deed of assent, which must be signed by the Executors or Administrators to the Will. And as earlier stated, once it has fulfilled the conditions highlighted above, a third party cannot lay claims to the properties of the deceased already passed on to the beneficiaries.
It is important to state that an assent need not be by deed and if it is by a deed, it is not a registrable instrument as the stamp duty payment is not required on it. This is because an estate duty has already been paid before a grant of probate or letter of administration was issued to the executors or the administrators.
By Real Estate Law Team at Resolution Law Firm