In July 2018, unclaimed financial assets stood at approximately Kshs 36.5 Billion according to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) Chief Executive Officer Kellen Kariuki. UFAA has continually expressed concern of Kenyan’s disinterest in pursuing funds that legally belong to their families. The authority now may have to plan campaigns to inform the public of the available money, securities, unit trusts, matured insurance policy and other assets including land. There are large tracts of land lying idle in the country, thousands of properties remain unclaimed with a great probability that the buyer died without disclosing ownership of such properties to their family members or never indicated a next of kin, or if they did, they failed to provide contact information.
Majority of Kenyans do not take the next of kin slot seriously when signing property documents, signing employment contracts, Chama/group forms, opening bank accounts and mobile money accounts. It is important to note the importance of having next of kin details in any agreement made by parties.
A next of kin is a person’s closest living relative, a spouse or a person who can be contacted in case of an emergency. Their details include official names, ID number, postal address, phone number and their relationship to you. These details are not only important in land ownership but in every aspect of life such as bank details, investments/properties, job/employment and insurance.
Below are the advantages of having next of kin in any agreement you make;
a)Protects your hard-earned investments in your absence.
In February 2018, the state announced plans to nationalize thousands of acres of land in the Coastal in which landlords have failed to identify themselves and prove ownership before the National Land Commission. This land could have been owned by individuals who may have never indicated their contact details, physical address or that of their next of kin. In case you own a property secretly and no one knows, the land could in future be nationalized because your family members may never know you owned a piece of property somewhere.
b)The next of kin has much power in case something happens to you
Your next of kin has the capacity to make a decision for you in case of sickness or death. Your investment could come in handy when you need to settle a hospital bill or pay for your child’s school fees, unfortunately, no one can decide to sell a property they are not aware you owned even when you are critically ill to communicate about your wealth.
c)Helps in determining inheritance rights if a person dies without a will and has no spouse or children.
In case a property owner passes on without a will their next of kin take over the property without much struggle and it greatly helps in reducing court cases related to the distribution of wealth among family members in case the owner dies.
d)Leads to full utilization of land as a resource
When your next of kin is aware of a land you own they may decide to invest in agriculture or construction without worry. However, in case they are not aware of such land, it is left bare for many years neither benefiting the owner or their close relatives.
Choosing a next of kin
The choice of a next of kin is solely dependent on the property owner and a lawyer comes in handy in advising on the legal procedure.
Disclosure of the next of kin details
It is the responsibility of a property owner to inform their next of kin because neither a lawyer nor a property seller can disclose it to protect your interest. This works to your own good to ensure your investment is secure even in your absence. It is of great importance to gradually update the details of your next of kin especially the contact details, ID number and address.
Reuben Kimani, CEO, Username Investment Ltd. articulates on the importance of having next of kin details in land transfer documents and the established real estate company treats such details with utmost confidentiality to protect the interest of investors. “As a professional company, we cannot compel our customers to disclose their assets but it’s important for them to share this information with those they trust to safeguard their property in their absence.”
Written by, Reuben Kimani, CEO, Username Investment Limited.