ADMINISTERING LAND OF A DECEASED PERSON
In Uganda, the law regarding the estate of the deceased persons is governed under the succession Act. It is important to note as well, that every adult person with sound mind can make a will disposing off his or her property and assets upon death. Where one dies after having a will attested to, he/she is referred to have died testate. However when a person, dies without a will, they are considered to have died intestate.
The law treats intestate and testate properties quite differently. For a person who died intestate, letters of administration are issued to the persons whom the beneficiaries to the state do not object to. However, for a testate person, the will provides for the testator to name executors to the will. Upon the testator’s death, the executors are tasked to prove the will and thereafter are granted letters of probate to administer the estate.
In the cases of letters of probate, a testator may appoint one or more executors to administer over the estate upon his/her death. However, some executors are not faithful or diligent enough to deal with the estate for the benefit of the beneficiaries and as a result a number of cases have seen letters of probate being revoked. Today however, we shall be looking at the landmark case that was decided by the supreme court recently in September 2020 regarding executors, Sylvia Byaruhanga vs FR. Emanuel Ruvugwaho and another Civil Appeal No. 09 of 2014, Judgement of Honorable Justice Arach Amoko.
In the above case, the testator named 4 executors in his will and all were granted letters of probate. However, one of the executors went ahead to transfer the title of the deceased into his names as a proprietor and not executor. The question before the supreme court in this case was whether the actions of one executor, without the consent of other executor s would be lawfully binding.
Sections of the law relied on included sections270, 272 and 185 of the succession Act and section 134 of the Registration of Titles Act.
Based on the sections of the law provided, together with case law, court concluded that;
- Where one or more executors have been named in the will, any or all can prove the will by applying for letters of probate. It is in this case that if one of the executors applies for letters of probate and is granted, that he/she can execute as though he/she was appointed as sole executor. In case the other names executors apply and are granted letters of probate, they can then act together with the one who applied and was granted in the first place.
- Where more than one executor was granted letters of probate, for the purpose of conveyance contracts, all executors must appear on the certificate of title and any or all transactions in that regard shall involve all the executors.
In the above case, all executors were granted letters of probate, however one of them went ahead to transfer the title into his names in his personal capacity and it was considered as an unlawful act thus the transaction was held to be void.
The take home therefore is that for any conveyance transactions regarding the estate of a deceased, it is important to know how many administrators or executors have letters of administration or probate to avoid any regrets in future.
Written by Daisy Oketcho