RESEALING OF PROBATE IN NIGERIA
When a person dies, everything he owned does not die with him, there are regulations guiding the distribution, management and administration of the deceased’s estate, these processes can be carried out through either a grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.
However, situations can arise where the deceased owned properties in several jurisdictions or state in Nigeria, what then can be done especially since a grant of Probate or Letters of Administration only applies to a particular jurisdiction or state. What can be done in such situation is called re-sealing of a grant of probate or Letters of Administration.
Re-sealing means taking a Letter of Administration or Probate obtained in a particular jurisdiction to another jurisdiction in order to enforce it. Situations can arise where the deceased has properties in jurisdiction outside where Letter of Administration or Probate was granted, in this situation, instead of the Administrator of the deceased’s estate obtaining Letters of Administration in each of those states or jurisdiction, the first probate or letters of administration obtained can simply be stamped by the High Court of that jurisdiction, making the Probate or Letter of Administration valid in those jurisdiction.
For example, letters of Administration obtained at the Federal Capital Territory High Court can be resealed at the Lagos State High Court for the purpose of securing the deceased’s properties in Lagos State.
The procedure for resealing is statutorily provided for in the Probate (Re-Sealing) Act. Section 2 of the Act provides thus:
“where the High Court of a state has, either before or after the commencement of this Act, granted probate or letters of administration in respect of the estate of a deceased person, the probate or letters of Administration so granted may, subject to the provisions of this Act, on being produced to, and a copy thereof deposited with, the High Court of any other state, be re-sealed with the seal of that court.”
CONDITIONS TO BE FULFILLED BEFORE RE-SEALING
There are certain conditions that must be fulfilled before resealing of probate or letter of administration in Nigeria. These conditions are provided for in Section 3 of the Probate (Re-Sealing) Act as follows:
“The High Court of a state shall, before re-sealing
a probate or letters of administration under this
Act, be satisfied;
(a) that probate duty has been paid in respect of so
much, if any, of the estate as is liable to probate duty
in that state.
(b) in the case of letters of administration, that security
has been given in a sum sufficient in amount to cover the
property, if any, in that state to which the Letters of
administration relate and may require such evidence
if any, as it thinks fit as to domicile of the deceased person”
3.0 EFFECTS OF RE-SEALING.
The section 6 of the Probate (Re-Sealing) Act, summarizes the effect of the resealing where it provides as follows:
“ A probate or letters of administration re-sealed
by the High Court of any state under this Act shall
have the like force and effect and have the same
operation in the state in which it is re-sealed as if
granted by the High Court of that state.
Therefore, where probate has been successfully re-sealed, it has the same effect as if a fresh grant of probate or letter of administration has been granted in respect of the estate and the administrators or executors are entitled to exercise authorities on any property in the new jurisdiction.
In final summary, resealing of probate in Nigeria is necessary or required where the estate of a deceased that a grant has been obtained for extends to another jurisdiction. The process of resealing saves time and additional cost that may be required to process a fresh grant for the assets of the deceased in another jurisdiction. However, the resealing process is not entirely free. The Administrators or Executors with a grant must pay the necessary due to the new state or jurisdiction in respect of properties domiciled in a state where any grant is to be resealed.
By Family Law Department at Resolution Law Firm