By Obinna Chima
The Group Company Secretary/General Counsel, UBA Capital Plc, Mr. Leo Okafor, has stressed the need for Nigerians to embrace trust as an instrument for wealth transfer.
Okafor made this call while speaking at a seminar titled: “Trust as an instrument of estate planning in modern times,” organised by Meristem Trustees Limited at the weekend in Lagos.
A trust is a legal arrangement in which someone (called a trustee) holds and administers property given to him by another person (called the settlor) to hold on his behalf for the benefit of named persons (called the beneficiaries.)
According to Okafor, a living trust, also known as estate planning is for everyone.
“Don’t just think you need to be rich before you begin an estate plan. An estate plan begins the very first day you start working and earning money.
As a young man, the first day you start working, your first salary is what you should use to start your own estate plan. Estate planning means you have a future,” he said.
Continuing, Okafor noted: “You have a job today, but you are not sure of what would happen tomorrow. So today is the day you begin to prepare for tomorrow. When a man chooses to use a trust to prepare for his future, it could be things you prepare to leave behind for people around or it could be your own form of retirement plan.”
He explained that before a trust is set up, a number of things would have to happen on the part of the person who wants to set up the trust. Firstly, he said must be the intention to create the trust, stressing that it is important for every man or woman to think ahead and make adequate plans.
“Estate planning, especially trust enables you to distribute your wealth as you wish as nobody will fight over it. It gives you opportunity to provide for your loved once and when somebody is old, the trust can also take care of him because it is also a personal retirement plan.
“The best advantage is that there is no probate. A will goes through probate and if there is no quarrel over the man’s property, the fastest could be one year. A trust is effective immediately you sign it, unlike a will that will wait for the man or woman to pass on and a trust is administered by professionals,” he added.
On his part, the Managing Director, Meristem Trustees Limited, Mr. Yinka Adegbola explained that a living trust simply states that while someone is alive, he should set up the trust and you see it running, unlike a will.
“What we are trying to advise is that instead of things getting worse when you are not alive, why not set up a trust while you are still alive and you can see it running, so that when you are dead, you will know you are truly resting in peace,” he added.