SUCCESS STORY: A father's unclear will causes his daughters to suffer - Justice Centres Uganda

SUCCESS STORY: A father’s unclear will causes his daughters to suffer

There’s a lot of gender-based violence among families in Uganda and many women who experience violence lack legal support. However, this is not the case for 52-year-old Maria who sought help from JCU. Maria and her sisters had been oppressed by their brother for so long after their father passed on. Their father died leaving a will in which he instructed James to administer his estate and take care of all his siblings; however, this wasn’t the case. James got greedy and benefited from his late father’s estate while excluding his sisters. He further made his wife manager of the estate and together they were collecting money from his late father’s rental houses and only using it for themselves, not sharing at all with his sisters.

This went on for 15 years and while he got richer every month, his sisters got more and more miserable. They felt marginalised and disrespected because for all those years, they were not given any accountability on how he was spending the proceeds. They only once received UGX 1,000,000 from him during the Covid-19 lockdown. Maria could no longer put up with that situation and she confided in a friend, who told her about the free legal services JCU provides. Hearing about this, she immediately reported her matter to an advocate at the JCU Mmengo Centre.

James and his wife were invited to an office mediation. There it was discovered that the will made was quite ambiguous; others would say invalid, because it only stated that James be in charge of everything and take care of his sisters, which was a contributing factor to James’ aggressive and dismissive behaviour towards his sisters. During the mediation, James and his wife were taken aside and were made aware of the law on succession, specifically administration of estates and how that would affect the interpretation of the father’s will.

Eventually, the parties agreed that all children, Maria and the sisters inclusive, were beneficiaries to their late father’s estate and that they were all entitled to a share. James agreed to give his sisters the remaining money that he had collected from the rentals which was Ugx. 37 million. The siblings also amicably agreed to sell off one property and share the proceeds equally. They all were happy with the decision and signed an MoU to that effect.