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MP proposes law to lock out 'partners', ex-wives’ from inheritance

By Kamau Muthoni | Nov 29th 2019 | 2 min read
Homa Bay Township MP Peter Kaluma. [Beverlyne Musili/Standard]

A proposal to amend a section of the succession law will see partners, former wives and children born out of wedlock locked out of inheritance.

If the Bill to amend the Law of Succession Act as proposed by Homa Bay Township MP Peter Kaluma passes in the House, inheritance will be limited to only men and women who are legally married, their legal children and extended family.

“The principal object of this Bill is to amend the Law of Succession Act to give legitimate dependants of a deceased person a claim and a right in the deceased's intestate estate. The main aim of the Bill is to avoid situations where opportunistic schemers successfully claim a stake in a deceased person's estate hence disenfranchising the legitimate heirs of the deceased,” Mr Kaluma says.

The MP, who is also a lawyer, wants section three of the Act be amended to read that a spouse means a husband or wife or wives recognised under the Marriage Act.

The current section three defines a wife; and this includes a woman who has separated from her husband, a spouse, a widow and also caters for men who are widowers.

It does not limit inheritance to only those who have tied the knot under civil, traditional or religious marriages.

On children, the current law specifies that a child includes one who is conceived but not yet born, any child born out of wedlock and any child whom a man or woman has expressly recognised or accepted as a child of his own or one whom he or she has voluntarily assumed permanent responsibility.

The MP also wants to amend section 29 of the Act. This section defines who a dependant is. According to Kaluma, the section should read that a dependent is a spouse and the children of a deceased.

The section Kaluma wants to be repealed defines dependants as the wife or wives, former wife or wives and the children of the deceased whether or not maintained by the deceased immediately prior to a man’s death.

He, however, wants parents, step-parents, grandparents, grandchildren, step-children, children whom the deceased had taken into his family as his own, brothers and sisters and half-brothers, half-sisters to claim the earthly wealth left by a man upon death as dependants.

Locked out

“A person not named in this section shall not be a dependant for the purposes of this Act unless the person proves was maintained by the deceased for a period of two years prior to the deceased's death,” Kaluma proposes.

He continues: “The Bill seeks to provide clarity on who a dependant of a deceased person is. It gives stronger protection to the spouse, children and extended family of a deceased person in succession matters. In that regard, clause 2 of the Bill introduces the definition of the term 'spouse' as contained in the Marriage Act.”

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