In Summary
  • Once a loved one has died and the grief has abated, a family has to divide the property left behind among themselves.
  • The absence of a will makes things more difficult, as some may want to take more for themselves while leaving others out.

  • When a person dies without a will, they are said to have died intestate.

  • Battles over property sometimes drag to the courts after a person dies.

Kenyans rarely want to think of death, especially their own. Hardly are preparations ever made beforehand – on what to do with the body, how long to wait until the burial, where to bury the body and, most importantly, who will take over their estate once they are gone. Those who make these arrangements before they die are often regarded as odd or simply macabre.

INTESTATE

Cultural beliefs are mostly responsible for this mindset and thus, few Kenyans make a will before they die.

“Many of those who approach me to write their wills are old. However, I believe anyone with dependants or if single but with considerable property, ought to write a will,” family law practitioner Enricah Dulo told the Saturday Nation.

Once a loved one has died and the grief has abated, a family has to divide the property left behind among themselves. The absence of a will makes things more difficult, as some may want to take more for themselves while leaving others out. When a person dies without a will, they are said to have died intestate.

According to Thursfield Solicitors’ website, an article by Edward Jones says that a will is important for various reasons. First of all, it ensures that one’s wishes are respected. It guides the way one’s estate is distributed among their survivors. It ensures that unmarried partners and even charities are included in the inheritance, whereas the lack of a will would only see direct heirs benefit.

Mr Edwards says further that a will also enables one to name their preferred choice of guardian for their children. In the event a person dies before their children turn 18, the people they think would be best suited to raise their children will be given the responsibility. This minimises the chance of legal battles over custody, which further traumatises the minors after the death of a parent.

The third reason is to ensure that one minimises the chances of the succession dispute going to court.

BENEFICIARIES

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