High Court Makes Landmark Ruling on Inheritance

The high court on Wednesday made a ruling concerning property inheritance by children born of widowed mothers.

According to the court, children born by a widow more than nine months after the husband's death are not entitled to inherit a share of his property.

Kerugoya's Justice Lucy Gitari maintained that a child born posthumously to a widow not less than nine months upon the death of the husband ought to be excluded in succession.

According to Gitari, such a child cannot be regarded as having survived the deceased according to Section 29 of the Law of Succession Act, Cap 160.

She also stated that such children cannot be regarded as dependants of the deceased’s estate, because the late individual had not taken them as his own, and was not maintaining them before he passed away.

The decision was made while ruling on a succession dispute between a woman, Milka Wanjiku, and her step-mother Rose Wangechi.

The two women are reported to have been wrangling over the distribution of the estate of Wandimu Munyi, deceased, who passed on in 1985. 

In the case, Wangechi wanted three other children that were born after her husband’s demise be listed as beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate which included a 22-acre land in Mwea.

The deceased, however, had two wives, the second, who bore three other children after her late husband, wanted all the children to share the property equally.

However, in her ruling, Gitari ordered that the deceased’s estate be shared in five portions among the four children he had sired in his lifetime, inclusive of Wangechi.

“The (other) four children are excluded as beneficiaries. The distribution should be in accordance with the number of children.The widow is an additional unit,” read the judge.

She further added that her decision on the distribution of the estate was according to Section 40 of the Law of Succession Act.

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