President Uhuru Kenyatta assents to the Refugees Bill, Foreign Service Bill and the Law of Succession (Amendment) Bill into law at State House, Nairobi on November 17, 2021. [Photo/ PSCU]
President Uhuru Kenyatta assents to the Refugees Bill, Foreign Service Bill and the Law of Succession (Amendment) Bill into law at State House, Nairobi on November 17, 2021. [Photo/ PSCU]

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, November 17 assented to the Law of Succession (Amendment) Bill, 2019 ushering in a new legal era for succession planning in Kenya.

President Kenyatta stated that the bill would “streamline the administration of succession matters in the country.”

The Bill was sponsored by Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma in November 2019. At a ceremony attended by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and Clerk of the National Assembly Michael Sialai, Uhuru signed it into law alongside the Refugees Bill and Foreign Service Bill.

The three bills will have to be gazetted as Acts of Parliament within the next seven days to become law. According to Kaluma, the Succession law is meant to offer greater protection to spouses, children and the extended family in succession matters.

It defines spouses and marriages as in the Marriage Act where spouse means “a husband or wife” and marriage means “the voluntary union of a man and a woman whether in a monogamous or polygamous union and registered in accordance with this Act.”

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It notably amends Section 29 of Cap 160 to define dependants as;

(a) the wife or wives, or former wife or wives, and the children of the
deceased whether or not maintained by the deceased immediately prior to
his d***h;
(b) such of the deceased’s parents, step-parents, grand-parents,
grandchildren, step-children, children whom the deceased had taken into
his family as his own, brothers and sisters, and half-brothers and halfsisters, as were being maintained by the deceased immediately prior to his
d***h; and
(c) where the deceased was a woman, her husband if he was being
maintained by her immediately prior to the date of her d***h.

Legal analysts have opined less legal backing to nonconventional dependants such as secret lovers to stake a claim to estates of deceased individuals. It does offer them some leeway, stating;

“A person not named in this section shall not be a dependant for the purposes of this Act unless the person proves [he or she was] maintained by the deceased for a period of two years prior to the deceased’s d***h.”

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