Every member of the family can inherit the family wealth: Married women now entitled to father's property

The High Court has allowed married women to equally share their fathers’ estate with their brothers.

“The estate of the deceased shall be distributed in accordance with the Law of Succession Act, meaning that it shall be distributed equally between the children of the deceased, including the married daughters,” Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi ordered.

She further stated that any member of the family not interested in his or her share must file an affidavit renouncing the interest.

The decision was made in a case in which a woman applied for confirmation of letters of grant issued to her in November 2014 regarding her late father’s estate.

The letters of grant stated that the property comprising two parcels of land in Kericho County should be divided equally between Cecilia Chepng’eno’s mother and step-mother’s houses as per the Kipsigis customary law that recognises houses.

Chepng’eno, however, wanted her father Zakayo Chepkwony’s estate shared equally between her and her brothers only, stating that her married sisters should not get anything.

Chepkwony died on February 9, 1996 at Itibei, Ainamoi, leaving behind two widows and 11 beneficiaries to his property.

The first house comprises Mary Ng’etich, Anne Seronei, Christine Matwek and Thomas Kibole, while the second one has Joseph Sang, Christine Bii, Petronila Businei, Anne Tonui, Didacus Ngetich, Cecilia and Thomas Kiprotich.

Beneficiaries’ consent

In June 2015, Kiprotich opposed the application for confirmation of grant dated May 2015 on grounds that Chepng’eno had not sought the consent of other beneficiaries before filing the application in court.

He indicated that she had not stated a full inventory of assets in their father’s estate.

The court heard that before his death, Chepkwony had subdivided 19.26 acres of land among his sons and given Chepng’eno 0.5 acres that she did not include in the inventory.

In her response, Chepng’eno told the court she did not seek her siblings’ consent before filing the application because they were opposed to the succession process.

She denied being allocated 0.5 acres from her father, saying she had all along been living in her father’s house with her four sons.

Her brother Kiprotich is said to have purchased 0.2 acres of land and has been asking her to move there in lieu of her share of their father’s estate.

Chepng’eno reportedly declined, saying the land was too small for her children, and to compel her to accept it was tantamount to discrimination.

In the judgment delivered on May 24, Justice Ngugi stated that Kiprotich did not file any title to show that the 0.5 acres of land exists, and that it belongs to the deceased.

The court observed that Chepkwony did not leave a will and his estate must be distributed in accordance with the provisions for the distribution of the estate of a person who dies intestate and leaves children but no spouse.