In a judgment that could affect family relations, a court has ruled that four sisters who disobeyed their father should not inherit his property.
The High Court sitting in Nyeri thwarted an attempt by the women to own a share of the land and capital shares after their elder brother revealed their disobedience to their father.
“How close a child or children were to their deceased parent or how far they were alienated from him or her are some of the matters that the court is enjoined to take into account in an application for appointment for a share of the estate,” Justice Jairus Ngaah said in his ruling.
Ms Purity Gathoni, Ms Joyce Murugi, Ms Esther Wanjiru and Ms Caroline Wakaraya were seeking a share of land and equities owned by their father Njari Karonji, who died in 2006 aged 86.
Ms Gathoni said her father had several land parcels, which he distributed to his sons, leaving out his daughters.
But Mr Duncan Wanderi convinced the court that his sisters forfeited their right to claim a share of their father’s estate since they disobeyed him and were, in a way, estranged from him.
Karonji had retained one parcel of land, Kirimukuyu/Mbogoini/837 measuring 0.88 hectares, for his own use and occupation, Mr Wanderi said.
The old man gave the land to him but he was not able to transfer it to his name.
Mr Wanderi said he all along took care of his elderly father and mother.
Karonji’s widow Elishiba Njoki Njari and her 10 children had been involved in a succession dispute since October 2009 when she and her son Wanderi filed an affidavit petitioning for letters of administration of the estate.
They listed the land and 50 Equity Bank shares as the only assets in dispute.
Justice Ngaah noted that the family was unable to distribute the estate amongst themselves and ordered that it be transferred to Ms Njari.
“The law, as spelt out in the Law of Succession Act, is clear that the administrator is entitled to her deceased husband’s estate,” the judge said.
The grant of letters of administration in the estate was made to the petitioners on April 13, 2010.
They then filed the summons for confirmation of grant, according to which they proposed to have the land transferred to Mr Wanderi while Ms Njari got the shares.
However, the four sisters were not satisfied with the proposal and filed a joint affidavit of protest.
They said that every child of the deceased should get an equal share of his estate.
Ms Gathoni produced certificates of official search showing that the other parcels of land owned by the deceased were in her brothers’ names.
She said the one which he retained in his name was to be inherited and jointly owned by his surviving widow and daughters.
Another Karonji daughter, Ms Mary Nyaguthi, however testified that he did not give any part of his land to her sisters.
She said he had directed that should any of his daughters’ marriages collapse and she was compelled to return to her parents’ home, it was Mr Wanderi’s responsibility to settle her.