What is Succession? | Legalsure East Africa Limited

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What is Succession?

The general meaning of the word, succession, is the process of following another. As a legal terminology, succession means taking the rights of another as his or her successor. It usually denotes the transmission of rights and obligations of the deceased to his legal heirs.

The word, succession, is also used to refer to the rights, estate, and charges left by a person after his or her death, irrespective of whether the value of the property is more or less than the charges. It may also signify the right of the heir to take possession of the estate of the deceased.

Succession is the right and transmission of the rights and obligations of the deceased to his heirs. The Kenya law of succession prescribes the rules which determine what ought to happen to a person’s estate after his or her death. It is also referred to as the law of inheritance i.e. transmission of property rights from the dead to the living.

Succession not only includes the rights and obligations left by the deceased at the time of his or her death, but it also includes new charges, rights, and obligations that accrue to the existing ones after opening of the succession.

The rules of succession identify the beneficiaries entitled to succeed to the deceased’s estate and the extent of the benefits they are to receive. The Kenya law of succession determines the different rights and duties that persons (for example, beneficiaries and creditors) may have in a deceased’s estate.


What is the Importance of Succession?

The main function of succession is to provide mechanisms for the transmission of property from the deceased to those who survive him. It involves:

  1. Identifying the legal/rightful claimants of the deceased’s property.
  2. The procedures of which is to be taken by the claimants to enable them acquire the property of the deceased.
  3. Tools for dispute resolution are provided to resolve any encounters between persons who claim to be rightful claimants.

There are THREE types of Successions:

Testamentary Succession: This type of succession is created when a testament specifying the heir to one’s property is executed in a manner prescribed by law.

Legal Succession: It’s the succession established in favor of the nearest living blood relations of the deceased.

Irregular Succession: It refers to the succession established by law in the absence of legal or testament-constituted heirs.


Who has the right to inherit a deceased person’s property?

The Law of Succession Act Cap 160 provides for persons that can inherit the property of a deceased person under section 29 as dependants which include:

  1. 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 death;
  2. Such of the deceased’s parents, step-parents, grand-parents, grandchildren, stepchildren, children whom the deceased had taken into his family as his own, brothers and sisters, and half-brothers and half-sisters, as were being maintained by the deceased immediately prior to his death; and where the deceased was a woman, her husband if he was being maintained by her immediately prior to the date of her death.

Is a woman allowed to inherit property?

Yes. Both men and women have equal rights to inherit property. Reference to children does not distinguish between sons and daughters, neither is there distinction between married and unmarried daughters


Can parents inherit the property of their deceased child?

Yes. Parents can inherit their deceased children’s property if:

  1. The child included them in a will as beneficiaries and/or dependants;
  2. Where there is no will, if the parents prove that they were dependants of their child prior to his/her death;
  3. Where the deceased has no surviving wife or children and no will, then they (parents) will be given the first priority.
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