Intestate succession, is where one dies without a will, or they had written a will but was declared invalid by a court of law, or where one had written a will, revoked it, and failed to write another. In other words, there is no particular mode of distribution of property left by the deceased.
When writing a will, the writer should be of legal sound mind. This means they should not be suffering from any mental illness.
A will is invalidated on the grounds of capacity, that is, age and state of mind. Other factors will include undue influence, or coercion, which will be considered by the court during the process.
The law divides the property of a man who died intestate, in the following circumstance:
If the man was unmarried and had no kids, no spouse(s), with reference to section 39 of the succession act, the first person to inherit or administer the estate of such, is the father. In the absence of the father, then the mother inherits the man’s (her son’s) property.
If both the father and mother are deceased, then his siblings of both gender, inherit the property. If the siblings are not there, then the children of the deceased’s brothers and sisters (the nephews and/or nieces), get to inherit the estate.
In case these are missing, half brothers and sisters or the children of the half brothers and sisters, are next in line for inheritance. If all of the aforementioned are missing, then the relatives of the 6th degree, for example, the cousins and grandparents, shall be inheriting the deceased’s property.
If none of those are available in that hierarchy, then the estate is administered by a public trustee appointed by the government.
A public trustee is an office within the attorney general’s office that takes charge of estates marred by conflicts or unavailable successor(s). Property is usually governed by a public trustee after a notice has been published in the Kenya Gazette, about the whereabouts of a deceased’s relatives, in the order of the hierarchy. If no one claims knowledge of the deceased after the expiration of the notice, then the property is put under the public trustee’s management.
A public trustee also comes into play when the successors of a deceased, can’t agree on the administration of an estate.