Contested Wills and Testaments in Ghana: Exploring the Legal Claim for Reasonable Provision for Dependants

35 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2020

See all articles by Reginald Nii Odoi

Reginald Nii Odoi

Office of the Attorney General & Ministry of Justice-Ghana

Date Written: September 15, 2020


It is certain that human life is not perpetual and surely does come to an end. That notwithstanding, during one’s lifetime, several properties whether movable and/or immovable are acquired but cannot be carried along into the afterlife. Thus, the Ghanaian law and the Common law in general allows persons to execute Wills as the legal means by which property acquired during their lifetime could be disposed of, in the event of death.

Wills represent the aggregate of a person’s “testamentary intentions so far as they are manifested in writing and duly executed according to the statute.” Wills are capable of disposing of all real and/or personal property of the testator in accordance with law. The law also ensures that the true declaration of the last Will of a testator is that which is done after the death of the testator.

The law follows the intentions of the testator by leaving everything to the unfettered discretion of the testator since the law presumes that the “instincts, affections and common sentiments” of the testator may be safely trusted to secure a better disposition of the property of the dead as compared to a distribution prescribed by the stereotyped and inflexible rules of a general law.

However, there are instances where dependants of the deceased, whether deliberately or inadvertently, are not provided for in the Will of the deceased testator. In such instances, Ghanaian law does not leave dependants without a remedy. This Article thus seeks to explore the legal claim for reasonable provision out of the Will of a deceased testator in favor of dependants of the testator. By so doing, the Article would review the legal architecture as well as a number of decisions of the Superior Courts of Judicature on the subject so as to explore the jurisprudence on the subject of reasonable provision in a Will.

Keywords: Will, Wills Act of Ghana, Testator, Reasonable Provision, Dependant, Disabled, Humphrey Bonsu, Supreme Court of Ghana, 1992 Constitution of Ghana, Testamentary Capacity, Executors, Disposition, Property Distribution, Interpretation of Wills, Purposive Approach, Jurisprudence, Common Law, Death,

JEL Classification: K10, K12, K20, K40, K42, K41

Suggested Citation

Odoi, Reginald Nii, Contested Wills and Testaments in Ghana: Exploring the Legal Claim for Reasonable Provision for Dependants (September 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Reginald Nii Odoi (Contact Author)

Office of the Attorney General & Ministry of Justice-Ghana ( email )

+233207335956 (Phone)

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