UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Families from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds inherit property from one another. After a property owner passes away, disputes about property distribution frequently arise among families.
Even before the cement on the grave has dried, there will always be someone who feels they received less than another as there will always be property to be shared.
Legal shareholders are defrauded, some are denied their right to a share, and others receive benefits they are not entitled to. We examine the backup of the law in sharing and distribution of properties in Uganda.
Legal Binding Will
Wilson Buyondo’s family is settling the distribution of his estate in the Kampala neighbourhood of Kyanja.
As is typical in similar situations, some members of the family feel more entitled to the fortune and are thus attempting to decide who should receive what. Since their parents passed away before receiving their share of the land, one of the daughters feels her nieces and nephews have no claim to it.
Another family member brings up the unjust norm that girls only have the right to their father’s house as a place of safety if their marriages end in divorce rather than being able to receive additional property.
But thankfully, Buyondo wrote a legally binding will that specifies how much property each of his surviving children will get and who will receive the shares of the deceased children.
It is quite difficult to split up and share physical assets among family members. If the decedent did not leave a will or if the will is unconventional, it becomes considerably difficult.
For example, a family in Terere village, Buikwe District, is at odds with one another over a property that a deceased family member left completely to his granddaughter, although the deceased had dozens of children, a legal spouse, grandchildren, and a parent.
Women Inherit Property under New Succession Law
According to the attorney and advocate for women’s rights Milly Nassolo Kikomeko, while people who make a will have the freedom to decide how to divide their property, they are nonetheless required to abide by certain legal provisions.
Nassolo points out that because women’s inheritance rights are frequently abused, the legislation aids in defending their equal inheritance rights.
“Wives, daughters and granddaughters are frequently denied the right to inherit their deceased fathers, husband’s property, especially land yet they are protected by the law,” she says.
Who is Entitled to Share?
The deceased’s lawful spouse, children, and dependents are all entitled to a part of the estate’s assets when it is divided, according to the law.
Both partners in a marriage and male and female dependents are taken care of.
The Law grants courts the authority, under Section 38, to dispose of all a person’s property if they have not made reasonable provisions for the maintenance of their spouse, lineal descendants (children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren), and dependent relatives, whereas those who leave a will have the discretion to distribute their property, as noted by Nassolo.
“In circumstances where someone dies and issues of inheritance and succession arise, the distribution of the deceased person’s property may either be according to the deceased person’s will which is called testate succession, or according to the set of laws for property division if the person died without leaving a will which is termed as intestate succession,” Nassolo says.
She adds that if a deceased individual did not leave a will, their assets would be divided according to the law in proportions.
“In case such a person is survived by a spouse, a lineal descendant, a dependent relative and a customary heir will share 20 percent, four per cent, 75 percent and one percent respectively,” she says.
According to the law, if a person dies without a spouse or dependent relative who can inherit a portion of the estate, that portion will go to the person’s lineal descendants.
If a person has a spouse, a dependent relative, and a customary heir but no lineal descendants, the spouse receives 50% of the estate, the dependent relative receives 49%, and the customary heir receives 1%.
“However, if such a person is survived by a spouse or a dependent relative, but no lineal descendant, the spouse or the dependent relative, shall receive 100 percent,” she says.
The law mandates that all children, regardless of whether they are born out of wedlock or are lawfully adopted, have a right to their legal share, according to attorney Nabuguzi Kiwanuka.
She adds that parties involved in will disputes have a strong legal foundation to assert their property rights in court.
According to Nabuguzi, the administrator general is in charge of the property in situations when there is no surviving legal beneficiary.
Nabuguzi explains that the new law states that the family residence will be distributed equally to the lineal offspring upon the death of a surviving spouse, who will then inhabit it under the terms and circumstances outlined in the act.
She says that while a parent is still living, a child has no right to their possessions.
The Law Protects the Beneficiaries
According to the new law, it is illegal to forcibly evict a surviving spouse, lineal descendant, or dependent relative from the family home, according to Nassolo.
Anyone found guilty of evicting legitimate beneficiaries is subject to a fine of up to 168 currency points, or USh3.26 million, a term of imprisonment of up to seven years, or both.
According to the legislation, lineal descendants and spouses must both approve of the sale of inherited property.
However, when the spouse and descendants’ permission is unjustly denied, the Act also gives the executor or administrator the authority to petition the court for relief.
Foreigners Can also Inherit Property
Nabuguzi points out that no rule forbids a foreigner from inheriting a property that a deceased Ugandan resident left to them, such as a home or a piece of land.
“If the inheritance involves immovable property, then there is a provision in the constitution that regulates the conditions. Immovable property in Uganda, which is owned by a foreigner outside Uganda, is regulated by the national law of the foreigner’s home country as long as the property owner makes a will to that effect,” she adds.
She says that regardless of where they are from, Ugandan law is applied to divide deceased non-assets Ugandans if they do not leave a will.
The 1995 Ugandan Constitution, however, stipulates that if the property consists of land and that land was held in freehold or mailo forms of tenure by a deceased Ugandan citizen, a foreigner cannot freely inherit that land because, according to the Constitution, Ugandan land belongs to its citizens and shall only vest in them.
“The Constitution provides for foreigners to acquire a leasehold interest in Ugandan land for either 99 or 49 years,” she adds.
The Succession Act identifies the successors, representatives, and legal heirs of a foreign citizen who has assets in Uganda but fails to create a will.
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