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Succession is governed by the Law of Succession Act (Cap. 160) which is An Act of Parliament to amend, define and consolidate the law relating to intestate and testamentary succession and the administration of estates of deceased persons; and for purposes connected therewith and incidental thereto

Succession is where a interest is transferred from the dead person, to the beneficiary or successors. That is the people entitled to take over the deceased person’s assets.

Read more: Will and testament

The fate of deceased people wealth must be decided after their death. The most common method of passing on property as well as titles, rights, obligations, and even debts is through Inheritance which is the universal practice.

The Law of Succession Act

There are laws that Various countries use to govern such practices. In Kenya, The Law of Succession Act defines who can inherit the property of the deceased. It dictates the rules that ought to happen to a person’s property after he passes on. The Law provides for both intestate and testamentary succession and administration of estates of the deceased persons.

The Law also stipulates on how to apply for succession. The process is well layed down that transfers the property to the beneficiaries from the deceased, both in cases where there is a valid will and in the absence of a Will.

The Act stipulates the rules for both the testate and intestate succession.

Testate succession

Testate is when a person dies with a Valid Will in place. The wishes of the deceased person is carried out according to the will, or testament when distributing the property.

The will is a record of wishes and intentions made by deceased person’s pertaining to distribution of his property upon his death. The person owning the property ensures that upon his death, the property passes to a person, persons or institution of his choice through a valid will.

It is important to note that the Will is not Valid until the maker dies. While he is alive, his rights of ownership or benefits are not conferred to anyone. Neither does a Beneficiaries acquire any interest in the property before the testator’s death.

Intestate succession

Intestate is where an individual die before making a will, or otherwise the will is invalid. The law gives scenario that should apply when the deceased person does not leave behind a Will that distributes his property to the people entitled to it. The nature of the sharing of the property upon intestacy depends on whether the deceased was monogamous or polygamous. The Law of Succession Act defines how the property will be disposed for both monogamous and polygamous situations.

The issue of intestacy is contained in Part V of the Act from Section 32 to Section 42 of the Succession Act. The rules of this act only people with direct blood link with the intestate can benefit. The first priority to inherit the estate is given to immediate family members that is the spouse and children.

Personal and household effects of the deceased are entitled to the surviving spouse. The estate is been held in trust by the spouse on behalf of for the children. The spouse is required to divide the estate to the children in equal shares in the future. If there is no surviving spouse, the net intestate estate is passed on to the child or children of the deceased.

Under Section 36, where the intestate has left one surviving spouse but no child, or children, all net intestate estate are entitled to the surviving spouse.


The case of polygamous intestate is addressed in section 40. In such a case, intestate personal, household effects and the residue of the net intestate estate should be divided among the houses (number of wives) according to the number of children in each house.

Distant relatives are allowed to inherit if there are no immediate family members. Unless the deceased left a valid Will, there are no benefits conferred on categories such as the parents-in-law.

Where there are no blood relatives, the estate, or property are taken by the state. The state takes the property under the Doctrine of Bona Vacantia (property to which no person has a claim to).


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