The subject of a Will often evokes feelings of fear and uncertainty because of its close association with death. Some will not even discuss it for fear of inviting death.
Others are of the opinion that discussing it may be misconstrued as wishing death upon the one intending to bequeath.
However, failure to admit the relevance of this legal document or pretending that death is not a reality, is of little help.
A Will is a formal legal declaration that sets out the writer’s wishes as to how they want their assets distributed when they die. It only comes into effect when the writer dies.
Everyone should have a Will no matter the size of their assets. Whatever you own, belongs solely to you. You should decide what happens to it after you die.
Mark and Lucy Salongo are a young couple and they have a one year old child. They point out that as soon as they got their child a lawyer friend advised them to write a Will.
“We both wanted to protect our family incase of anything, my wife and child should benefit from my hard work and anyone else I feel I should support. I would not imagine an unwelcome intruder trying to rob my family of what I have left them,” explains Salongo.
Very few people however make a move such as this. Hence more and more property is lost in the event of a family member’s death. Many people continue to relinquish their right to their property by not documenting their wishes by writing a Will.
Elizabeth Manani, a local lawyer explains that in as much as it is important to write a Will people are still reluctant to do so hence they all lose their property.
She explains that many women are dependant on their husbands and when the husband dies without a Will then they lose everything.
“For many families death does not mean just a loss of a loved one it means the loss of property, a Will is a legal document that allows one to personally state their wishes before they die. A Will ensures that your property goes in the hands of those you deem right. You can draw a Will personally or have a certified lawyer do it for you, Make sure you have witnesses so that the document can be admissible in a court of law” Says Elizabeth.
She further points out that women should not wait for their husbands to make a Will and they should also plan for their wealth.
“Even though you are not married you must have something to be inherited so do draw a Will. A family lawyer can be given the power to execute the Will when you are gone,” Elizabeth concludes.
Among our beautiful practices is the love for the extended family and the need to keep inter family relationships. The problem however is that some of these relatives come in with ill motives.
Rita Mbabazi’s ancestral land lies along the beautiful shores of Lake Kivu but from the time her grandfather died, that has never been a place to call home. A battle has been raging in court after other extended family members claimed ownership of the same land.
“Our lawyer says that if my grandfather had written a Will then it would have been better. I plan to write a Will to protect my family from disinheritance” Rita explains.
According to Article 29 of the Rwandan Constitution, “Every person has a right to private property, whether personal or owned in association with others. Private property, whether individually or collectively owned, is inviolable. The right to property may not be interfered with except in public interest, in circumstances and procedures determined by law and subject to fair and prior compensation.”
Hence the government reserves the right to distribute personal property to the individual. A right many people continue to take for granted hence leaving their families in legal battle regarding inheritance.