What you need to know:
- In Kenya, the Law of Succession Act governs matters related to wills and succession.
- Section 5 of the Act provides that any person of sound mind, not being a minor, may dispose of their property by will.
- It goes on to state that a female person, whether married or unmarried, has the same capacity to make a will as a male person.
I am a 35-year-old single mother of two and have, through hard work, acquired parcels of land, commercial property and vehicles. Recently, I've been contemplating the best way to secure my children's future in case anything happens to me, considering they are still minors. I am unsure whether, at my age, it's appropriate to draft a will. Given your expertise, guide me on how I can legally and effectively ensure my children's future is safe to avoid any potential conflicts.
Moiben, Uasin Gishu County
First, it is crucial to dispel any misconception about age when it comes to creating a will. Regardless of your age, having a will is a responsible and wise decision, especially considering the valuable assets you've diligently accumulated.
In Kenya, the Law of Succession Act governs matters related to wills and succession. Section 5 of the Act provides that any person of sound mind, not being a minor, may dispose of their property by will. It goes on to state that a female person, whether married or unmarried, has the capacity to make a will as does a male person.
To begin the process, you may consult a lawyer experienced in estate planning. Select two adult witnesses who can attest to the will. Ensure your will includes provisions for the care and guardianship of your minor children. Naming a guardian in your will is essential, as it provides a legal framework for the upbringing and care of your children in the event of your demise.
Furthermore, consider seeking legal advice on setting up a trust for your children. A trust can be an effective tool for managing and distributing your assets, providing financial support for your children's education, healthcare, and general well-being. This legal arrangement allows you to appoint a trustee who will manage the assets on behalf of your children until they reach a specified age or milestone.
It is essential that you clearly stipulate your intentions and the rationale behind your decisions to minimise the likelihood of disputes between your children. Additionally, periodic reviews of your will are advisable, especially when significant life events occur, such as changes in financial status, the acquisition of new assets, or alterations in family dynamics.
To illustrate the significance of proper estate planning, Kenyan courts have numerous times emphasised the importance of writing a valid will to avoid conflict between beneficiaries. Learning from such instances underscores the need to seek professional guidance to ensure your intentions are legally binding and clear.
Therefore, creating a will at 35 is not only appropriate but responsible. It is a crucial step towards securing your children's future and minimising the potential for disputes over your assets.
The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and award-winning civil society lawyer ([email protected]).