Should partners share details of their wills?

Thursday April 9 2020

Marriage is built on transparency, sharing

Marriage is built on transparency, sharing ideas and discussing important matters as a family. Net Photo 

By Gabriel Buule

Milly Nassolo Kikomeko, a lawyer and human rights activist, says openness and truthfulness is the key to a lasting marriage. She adds that because marriage is a lifetime partnership, a number of things should be agreed upon, especially in writing and one of these is the will.

“Death is a fact of life and everyone would want a better and organised life for their partner in case of death. Sometimes, partners succumb to selfish interests by family members who would attempt to inherit part or all of your fortune and thus the need for a will,” she explains.

Nassolo adds that the will doesn’t only reveal property shared but responsibility and other family matters. She adds that when you decide to legally involve your partner when writing your will, do not let them be a witness since they are a beneficiary. The spouse should know the content and the custodians for safety.

Guidance
Nassolo emphasises that a will should be written, following the proper legal guidelines in accordance to the laws of the land considering that the wishes of the deceased will often prevail citing the law regarding succession in Uganda is the Succession Act Cap 162.

Sharifah Namwaase, a social activist, says it is better a person opts for the religious way as a guide. For example, she says, a Muslim should use the Quran as a guide and the Christian the Bible.

“The Quran advises that you look for a friend who would desist from disclosing your will and so if your closest friend is your partner, then deal with her/him on that matter,” she explains.

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She advises that you involve people you are accountable to and for the case of the spouse, you have to consider the validity of marriage to avoid legal hurdles.

Pastor Robert Kikomeko Tumushabe explains that the issue of the will should begin with the foundation of Marriage. Marriage is built on transparency, sharing ideas and discussing important matters as a family.

“Why would a husband not want to be transparent and tell their wife about their will?” he asks.

He says that in many cases, incidences that have ended up disenfranchising a particular partner have aroused many times and many wills end up being annulled or cancelled with claims that they might be forged just because a partner is included.

“The idea is to bring him or her to table with a lawyer to write your wills and put your interests clear. This way, if someone comes up with another will later, the wife or the husband should be able to detect fraud in the interest of both the family and the deceased.

He says that in this manner you are according yourselves valid powers of attorney to make valid decisions on behalf of your lifetime partner and fortunately, you can create the legal documents you need yourself.

Fraud
Kikomeko, however, advises that none of the partners should at any time append their signatures as witness because at one point it can create room for fraud in case of a dishonest partner.

He also advises that most of the things you accord your partner in the will are those that that you worked for together. Kikomeko says that if you accord family property to your partner, it might have legal implications.

“If she has stake in a particular property be clear and involve her, if you are not clear on a particular property, your death can cause financial loss to her. Basically, there is no harm disclosing your will to your spouse unless otherwise,” Kikomeko adds

Isaac Ssemakadde, a lawyer, says there is no harm in revealing the details of your will to a spouse or involve them in the writing process as long as you both follow the law.

The law
Section 36 of the Succession Act Cap 162 talks about the conditions to be met before a person can make a valid will. First, a person must be of sound mind. That is, they must not be insane, drunk, too sick or too old to understand what they are doing.

The will must thus demonstrate coherence, state the beneficiaries and the property and show clear intention to deal with the property in a particular way.

Above all, the Constitution should be put forth being the supreme law of the country, and court recognizes a will made by anyone who is 18 and above.

Will guidelines
•The person making the Will should be 21 years and above (however soldiers involved in active combat are allowed to write their Wills at the age of 18).
•The person making the Will should have testamentary capacity in other words, the person should be of sound mind; sound mind has a big interpretation to mean that the person should be mentally stable and should not be suffering from an illness or taking any medication that may affect his decision making process.
•The person making the Will should at the time of making it have the intention of making it (the person should have intent)
•The person writing the Will should do so voluntarily; they should not be forced to include any property or any person in the Will that he does not intend to include.
•There should be proper disposal of property in the Will; there should be a listing of all property intended to be distributed and the people it is to be distributed to.
• Last but not least, the will should be signed, dated and witnessed by two other parties who have no interest in the estate. For example, a beneficiary of a Will cannot be a witness to that particular will. (Source: Barefoot Lawyers- Uganda)

gbuule@ug.nationmedia.com

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