Dar es Salaam. While 91 percent of the respondents of the 2021 Human Rights Report by Legal and Human Rights (LHRC) think that it is important to write a will, only 11 per cent of them had actually written one, with 89 percent of them saying they had not written any will.
The findings were revealed Monday during the launching ceremony of the report at the Serena Hotel in Tanzania’s commercial capital of Dar es Salaam.
A Will, also known as a Last Will and Testament, is a legally prepared and bound document that states your intentions for the distribution of your assets and wealth after your death.
According to the survey, lack of awareness was mentioned by the majority of respondents as the major reason (66 percent) for not writing a will, followed by the perception or belief that writing of will means one is inviting death into their house (37 percent), and perception that one is too young to write wills (28 percent).
“The issue of writing a will is for town people because they are the educated ones,” the report quotes a community member from Mtwara as saying. “In our community here writing a will means creating family disputes.”
Some of those interviewed thinks that writing a will put one’s life in danger or create family conflict.
“There are older people who live in fear of their own children, knowing that they are more likely to be beaten it the children find out there is a will,” LHRC quotes a paralegal from Kagera as saying.
This view is supported by LHRC’s revelation that in 2021 it documented two incidents of parents killed by their children, reported in Geita and Rukwa Regions, both motivated by property inheritance.
In the years 2020 and 2021, LHRC has documented five incidents of parricide motivated by property inheritance, all perpetrated by sons of the victims, according to the report released Monday.
LHRC discussed the issue of writing wills in the context of property rights with the views of key issues affecting the right to property, which include land conflicts/disputes; infringement of women’s access, control and ownership of land; property grabbing from widows and older persons; and writing of wills to secure property and inheritance rights.
According to the report, women’s access to, use of and control over land continued to be limited in 2021, especially in rural areas, where application of customary law in applied.
In most rural communities, women are still denied the right to own land, with men having final say in their access and use of land and being in total control.
In 2021, LHRC also documented several reported land disputes that included land disputes among family members, land use disputes between farmers and pastoralists, and disputes between community members and investors.
LHRC believes that most of the reported disputes would have been prevented if there was a will in place. Women, or widows, and children become the major victims of forced eviction and denial of inheritance and property rights where there is no will, the organisations says in its report.
“Community members are encouraged to overcome their fears over writing wills and prepare them to safeguard property and inheritance rights of their families,” the report urges.