Easing tensions over family inheritances

Tuesday June 30 2020

Since death usually occurs unexpected, you may

Since death usually occurs unexpected, you may realize the value of writing a Will when it is too late. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By Charlotte Ninsiima

Families are usually embroiled in fights over wealth and property following the death of a loved one.

Often, the story is about fights over family inheritance. Besides the use of some documents, sometimes there is no statement (a written Will) left by the deceased highlighting specifics to linear descendants.

Stephen Wagobi, leadership and business consultant, shares insights on how to ease family inheritance tensions. First, establish and set up family conversations. This approach allows you to adjust to open end communication.

If combative, invite an unbiased person or financial adviser to meditate talks. This approach allows listening, recognising all siblings or people in conflict view of opinions.

He encourages, end-to-end discussions where all beneficiaries induce listening as a habit.
This allows for inclusion of profitable ideas, unity and initiatives that eliminate family conflict.

“Inclusiveness is crucial. The family head must be keen when selecting and including family members into the inheritance stretch. Allocations for different family members must be based on proper knowledge of passions, capabilities and strength to ensure proper management of family resources.”


Plan earlier. Wagobi says, one should be able to make a couple of legal documents when in good health. This allows for proper planning to create room for if the person becomes incapacitated, such as health care, investment plans and educational insurance.

Roland Odinga, a family lawyer, discusses key subjects to keep in mind.

A will
Creating a Will is necessary to ensure the distribution of wealth is less complicated.

“It is important to have a will when one has acquired property. At their demise, a will basically spells out how the deceased’s property ought to be given out to the respective persons stated. In existence of a Will, most times the law favours the wishes of the testator (deceased) to be upheld.

If a person has made a will; well explicit and with the necessary conviction, then it should be carried through,” Mr Odinga advises.

However, people in Uganda, associate wills with bad omen, which is false. It is good to keep in mind that a will can be challenged in front of Courts of Law hence one ought to be careful and give property to people entitled to it.

Every time one marries another wife, or bears more children or acquires more property; the will must change. However, changes are put in effect with the codicil, an amendment to the original will. This eases work instead of rewriting a will several of times.

Consult lawyer
Odinga advises that you should consult a lawyer while making a will much as it is not a requirement.

The lawyer helps with the technical bit of drafting a will that cannot be challenged and how it should be signed. A Succession Act 1906 offers adequate protection to that. The will must be signed by the testator but also witnessed by trustees, and not beneficiaries.

Appoint executor
In addition to that, it is important to name or appoint an executor, who will implement the wishes in the will.

“If you don’t name the executor in the will, it is almost like one has died without making a will. An executor carries out your wishes,” Odinga explains.

Odinga emphasizes, that the concerned should get property unless one has concrete reasons not to give and it can be proven. For instance, linear descendants (people related to you by blood, in this case, your family) are entitled to property.

The law
Under the law, the customary heir is entitled to 1 per cent aside from his portion of the inheritance. Odinga further explains, there are times when the testator dies before making the will which is difficult.

“In such a case, the law stipulates how much each must get. There is a process of getting Letters of Administration which should be respected to avoid wrangles. The administrator, elected from a family meeting, is supposed to distribute property according to the law. Thereafter, file an inventory in court (showcasing all the property of the deceased) and subsequently, file an account (justifying who has gotten and who has not).”

Keep in mind
A Will is a secret document that ought to be kept private up to ones’ demise to avoid putting their life at risk.

“It is stored in safe premises with a trustee like a religious leader, bank and lawyers, Odinga emphasises.

“Avoid dying intestated (without a will) or perform a lawfully recognised marriage with your partner; the law doesn’t recognise cohabitation,” Mr Odinga highlights.