SUCCESSION LAW AMENDMENT

Men to inherit wives’ property in proposed law

The Bill removes gender inequality in succession

In Summary

• For years, inheritance has been one way, where only wives have exclusive rights to inherit their husbands’ property.

• This is about to change as the new Bill that gives men absolute right to inherit their spouses’ property.

Nominated Senator Abshiro Halake addresses women legislators at Pride Inn Hotel in Mombasa/
GET THIS RIGHT: Nominated Senator Abshiro Halake addresses women legislators at Pride Inn Hotel in Mombasa/
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

 

The perception that it is only women who inherit their spouses' property will change if legislators pass the Law of Succession (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The Bill removes gender inequality in succession and gives either gender absolute right and freedom to inherit property.

 

The proposed law, sponsored by nominated Senator Abshiro Halake, is set for introduction in the Senate for the first reading.

“The Bill in amending the Law of Succession Act seeks to ensure that the Act provides for gender equity with regards to succession matters,” Halake says.

She adds: “The Bill deals with succession matters which essentially touch on land and other movable and immovable property of the deceased. Succession matters have implications on the well-being of members of the society especially dependants of the deceased.”

The Kanu nominated legislator argues that stability and continuity of life of the dependants contribute greatly to the economy and security of a country, hence the need for the Bill.

Specifically, the Bill amends section 29 of the Succession Act that defines a dependant as the wife or wives and the children of the deceased.

The current law only places a husband or a widower in the dependant's category on condition of proof that he was being maintained by his wife prior to her death.

Further, the Bill states that once a widow or widower remarries, they lose their life interest in the remainder of the deceased’s net estate – what remains after the personal and household effects.

 

In case the deceased has no surviving spouse or children, his or her parents will inherit the property in equal share as opposed to the current Act which gives the father priority.

Section 39 of the Law of Succession Act reads: “Where an intestate (deceased) has left no surviving spouse or children, the net intestate estate shall devolve upon the kindred of the intestate in the following order of priority— (a) father; or if dead (b) mother …..”

The proposed law further seeks to exclude community land as contemplated in Article 63 of the Constitution from the ambit of succession.

Community land is defined as any parcel lawfully registered in the name of group representatives, transferred to a specific community by any process of law or any other land declared community land by an act of Parliament.

The current law only excludes agricultural land, crops and livestock land in certain counties specified under the Tenth Schedule of the law of succession.

The parcels are in Tana River, Lamu, Garissa, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Turkana, West Pokot, Samburu, Narok and Kajiado.

“The law applicable to the distribution on intestacy of the categories of the property specified in section 32 shall be the law or custom applicable to the deceased’s community or tribe, as the case may be,” reads the Act.