Woman loses bid for Sh1 billion estate in inheritance battle

The Court of Appeal has blocked a woman's bid to get a share of a pilot's estate valued at Sh1 billion.

The court also stopped Agnes Nyambura from demanding a Sh45 million debt from Bryan Walter Shepard's widow, Lita Violet Shephard.

Ms Nyambura claimed that Mr Shepard had borrowed the money from her adoptive father, William Earl, who died in 2005.

In 2014, the High Court granted Nyambura Sh50 million from Shepard's estate. She had argued that she cohabited with him for 20 years.

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Provided for her

She said Shepard provided for her during his lifetime and she did not understand why he left her nothing.

 Lita Violet went to the Court of Appeal, arguing the lower court had ignored evidence that Nyambura was not married to her husband.

She also argued that the estate was not worth the amount Nyambura claimed.

Appeal Court judges Philip Waki, Mohamed Warsame and Agnes Murgor found that the High Court erred in awarding Nyambura Sh50 million as there was no proof of the award.

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The judges said Shepard was providing for Nyambura during his lifetime for warming his heart and gave everything to Violet in death for being in his mind.

The judges noted the High Court was supposed to look at the deceased's will as a stand-alone document without giving a lot of attention to the circumstances of the case.

“Again, to put the will into proper perspective, it is important to appreciate that the deceased had provided for the respondent during his lifetime and the legal wife after death. The sequence is a reflection of the natural environment of providing, for the heart (alleged customary wife) and mind (the legal wife), is the context and contours of what the trial judge was required to appreciate and determine," the judges said.

The court also observed that including Violet in the will and providing for Nyambura during his lifetime was a reflection that Shepard cared for both as he wished.

The judges further  held: “The will read together with the undisputed conduct of the deceased, in first distributing portions of the property to the respondent, constitutes a single project of harmonious and integral transaction which provided for both sides of the coin – a reflection of what the deceased intended.”

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Shepard died on March 29, 2010 in a plane crash at Dagoretti, Nairobi.

He left his wealth to Violet and their daughter, Dorothy Labonte, in a will he wrote on January 29, 2009. Shepard was said to have met Nyambura through his friend Earl, who had adopted her.

Plane crash

Earl appointed Shepard the executor of his will.

The judges observed that it was strange that neither Earl nor Shepard indicated in their wills that they owed each other before their deaths.

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They also wondered why Nyambura had remained silent about the alleged debt for many years.

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