Parliament has passed a new legislation; the succession Bill seeking to ensure equality and equity in the distribution of the deceased’s estates. The bill repeals the old succession law traced back to 1906.
The Bill’s main objective is to provide for the rights of women and also ensure equality between the spouses in the distribution of property or estates of the deceased. It among other things make it compulsory for testators to provide for spouses, lineal descendants, and dependant relatives in their wills.
According to the breakdown, of the deceased or testators wealth, the surviving spouse or spouses will take 20 per cent, the dependant relatives 4 per cent, the linear descendants or biological and adopted children take 75 per cent while the customary heir will take 1 per cent. The repealed act provided for only 15 per cent for the spouse.
However, the new law emphasizes that the principal residence of the person writing the will shall not form part of the property to be disposed of in a will, except where he or she makes another reasonable accommodation for the children and the spouse.
Monica Amoding, a member of Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA), says the percentages were decided after wide consultations with women, the government, and several actors. She says that 20 per cent of the estates or wealth, will be taken off the 75 per cent, in cases where there are school-going children aged below 18 and those with disabilities to ensure that their needs are not disrupted.
But in cases where there are estates or sources of income generate periodical income, that will provide the 20 per cent to educate the children and take care of the disabled. Amoding adds that the law banned the sale of the official residence of deceased persons.
In circumstances where a surviving spouse who separated from the deceased returns after the demise of a husband or wife, he or she is not entitled to anything according to the new law. This also refers to when the marriage between the two is suspended by agreement or by judicial order, but it will not apply if the surviving spouse was on an approved course of study, and if the deceased is the one who separated from the surviving spouse.
Amuru Woman MP Lucy Akello says the bill repeals the definition of legitimate and illegitimate children and replaces the age of the minors from 21 years to 18 years as per the Constitution. This means that all children are legitimate and therefore will be catered for. She says the bill also created penalties for those who try to evict rightful owners of the deceased estates.
The bill provides for the appointment of testament guardians by a will or statutory guardians by a parent or customary guardian by family. Termination of guardianship automatically happens when the child reaches 18 years, or when either the guardian or child dies.
Following the passing of the bill, members of the succession amendment roundtable including Women Human Rights Activists, Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Association (UWOPA), Landnet Uganda and Women’s Land Rights Movement among others celebrated what they termed as a milestone. According to UWOPA, both men and women are catered for equitably in the bill. URN