The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has advised couples whose spouses die without a will to take advantage of the Interstate Succession Law and seek redress at the law courts.
Mr John Ato Breboh, the Senior Principal Investigator, Tema Regional Office of CHRAJ, who gave the advice, said even though the law had been in existence since 1985, most spouses, especially women, were being kicked out of their homes by family members.
Mr Breboh, supported by Ms Isabella Ayaim, a CHRAJ Investigator, gave the advice when he spoke to the Ghana News Agency on the Interstate Succession Law.
He said the law had made provision for the sharing of the property of a deceased person, therefore the practice of families taking over such property at the detriment of the spouse and children was illegal and punishable by law.
He urged aggrieved bereaved spouses and children to contact the CHRAJ offices in their districts for advice, adding: “It is unfortunate that most of such women have lost hope and trust in the system and, therefore, do not want to pursue such issues.”
“It is discriminatory that a woman can die and then the man can have all her properties without family interference, while when the man dies, no matter the class of the woman, she will have to suffer at the hands of family members,” he stated.
He said to cure such anomalies, the PNDC Law 111 of 1985, currently under review, put in place a mechanism to satisfy all relatives of the deceased, which gave a larger portion of the property to the spouse and children.
He explained that if the deceased was survived only by a spouse without children, he or she was entitled to 50 per cent of the property while the remaining 50 per cent would be shared equally by the family and parents.
The Interstate Succession Law, he stated also provided that if a person died intestate without a spouse, his or her children would take 12 portions out of the 16 equal parts and the remaining four portions shared with the parents and family.
“If one dies without children and spouse, the parents and family will take 50 per cent each of his or her properties, if they die without a family, spouse, parents or children, everything goes to the state,” he stated.
He advised family heads to desist from arbitrary sharing of properties of people without recourse to the law and the acquisition of a Letter of Administration from the court, saying that amounts to illegality.