“Draft Wills to curb family disputes”
Lack of written wills among family heads and guardians has resulted in numerous family conflicts over inheritance of property among the children upon their demise.
A will is a written instrument which legally and clearly states the inheritor to assets, when they can inherit them, and the conditions to be met in order for family members to receive the property.
Parents should start to write wills to avoid such conflicts in future when they are no longer around, says Emmanuel Nkurunziza, the Director General of Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA).
“During land registration, we encountered a big challenge of property sharing among families due to the fact that the property owners passed away without leaving an agreement behind on how the family members would share the land,” he said.
The land registration process that was completed last month saw 10.3 million parcels registered countrywide. Out of this, 10,600 families involved in land wrangles were recorded.
Most of the land conflicts are largely among family members who failed to agree on sharing land especially in polygamous families.
Nkurunziza stated that although formal land inheritance procedures are covered in the National Succession Law of 1999, writing a will is better, quicker and time saving.
“Parents do not write wills. People come and tell us ‘we are the children of so and so and we want to have a share of the properties’. For us as an institution, there is no way we can prove it, we put them on the list but the definitive judgment can be done by the court which also takes a long time,” he said.
“We need to work out and see how we can encourage people to write wills and perhaps find other institutions that can back up courts, to be able to respond timely to the determinations of who are the successors of land and in what proportions.”
The succession law states that girls and boys have the same rights to inherit land and defines how members of the family inherit the property once the owner is deceased.
Land demarcation and adjudication was supposed to end by June this year while the issuing of land titles is set to end by December 2013.
One of the benefits of land registration is efficient, transparent and equitable system of land administration where people use their own land as collateral to acquire loans from banks.
In 2004, the government enacted an organic law on land to guarantee a safe and stable form of land tenure. Prior to that, the country never had a proper land policy.
Contact email: frank.kanyesigye[at]newtimes.co.rw