will

BMETRO COMMENT: Let us embrace the tradition of wills

Issues of inheritance are very important to families and they usually come to the fore after the death of a spouse.  

For most married couples, discussing the issue of inheritance is almost a crime since once the subject is brought up there is a tendency by men especially to accuse the women of planning to kill them or wishing them dead.

However, our view is that people should be open about these issues so that we do not encounter the drama that visits many funerals when relatives start fighting over property, usually at the expense of the children.

Those that are legally married are at a slight advantage since the marriage contract addresses the issue of the estate in the event one of the parties dies.

Elsewhere in this issue, we carry stories of disputes related to inheritance, especially in polygamous set-ups.

We believe organisations that deal with women’s issues and legal matters have a big role to play in educating women, and men also, on the importance of having a will so that in the event of death of a spouse there is clarity on how the estate should be disposed.

In one of the articles that we carry in this edition, a woman whose husband has married some more wives is embroiled in a wrangle with her husband as she is demanding that her name be put on their properties’ title deeds as the senior wife.

We believe that the woman’s goal is to protect the rights of her children in the event that she dies or their union is dissolved.

This would seem to be coming from the likely rush for resources by the several wives in the event of their husband’s passing on or a relationship with one of them being dissolved. This kind of set-up brings a lot of uncertainty among all the women married to the same men since they may never know the degree of ownership that they have over family resources.

We believe as families these are issues that deserve our attention, and issues that should be discussed openly without any accusations of seeking to end one’s life.

Wills and the distribution of estates will be with us for as long as humanity exists on this earth hence the need to find a way of assuring and re-assuring families by having a clear way of distributing the estate in the event of death.

Another touching matter involves a second wife brought in to bear children for her sister who is now being denied a share in the estate.  It would seem tradition is colliding terribly with the legal system and it is our hope that the woman will not be disadvantaged.

While we are not legal experts, the fact that there seems to have been a contract for the woman to join her sister’s union and bear a child for the family, there should be a compensatory deed on the part of the family.

What is worrying is that in both instances after the men at the centre of the matters exit the scene the disputes pits the women against one another.

It is our view that in the absence of a marriage certificate, it is proper for couples to clarify such issues during the happy times to safeguard not only their spouses’ future but their children’s future too.

Let us acquaint ourselves with inheritance laws and embrace the tradition of wills as well.