The court hearing the case of the will of late Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission Lawyer Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie popularly known as Sir John has been informed of development over some European Bank Accounts and properties of the late NPP General Secretary that was listed in his will and given out to his sisters’ kids.
According to the widow of the late Sir John, Mrs Agnes Owusu-Afryie also popularly known as Akosua Darkoah, although she has been poorly treated by the will, she has no problem and will not challenge or contest the fact that her late partner excluded his European properties and Bank accounts leaving only his properties in Ghana to share.
Late Sir John reportedly controlled a number of Bank Accounts in European countries with various foreign currencies and had some properties abroad that he did not include in his last will and testament.
Sir John left all the Europe bank accounts and properties notably in the United Kingdom to his 2 nephews Michael Owusu and Kwabena Amoateng and a niece, Ruth Korkor.
The will of Sir John whose execution is being challenged in court excluded everything given to these nephews and niece of Sir John.
Mrs Owusu-Afriyie who says she “contributed immensely” towards the success of Sir John but has been treated unfairly in his will, does not plan to challenge what the trio above received from their Uncle.
In early January, the widow sued Charles Owusu and one Nana Boakye Akeampong of Old Tafo who were jointly appointed by the late Sir John as Executors of his Will. She prayed the court to restrain the two from continuing to share her late husband’s properties until the court has fully heard the matter.
The widow says Sir John’s family have refused to even acknowledge her ill-health and further declined to offer any financial assistance to support her even though they know her husband didn’t make adequate provisions for her as his surviving spouse.
Despite her grievance, Mrs..Owusu Afriyie who allegedly tied the knot with Sir John in 1998 said she respects his decision to divest his Properties and cash in Europe to his nephews.
Inheritance among the Asantes is matrilineal. According to Asante’s custom, a son inherits his maternal uncles. However, the father may opt to leave his estate to his children or their mother. For the transaction to be customarily acceptable, the property transfer to his son or children must be done in the presence of witnesses. The practice currently among Western-educated Asantes is to mention such property transfers in their wills which late Sir John did.
In fact, in some cases, so strong is this custom that upon the death of a father, the matrilineal relatives may contest the dead man’s own children’s right to inherit from their father.
Despite the matrilineal tradition for inheritance among the Asantes, Ghanaian courts are empowered by common law to decide the equitable division of a father’s estate.
To streamline and update customary practice in the area of inheritance in Ghana, the former Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) government passed the PNDC Inheritance Law in 1985.
The law is a combination of four separate laws (They include PNDC Law 111 (succession), PNDC Law 112 (customary marriage and divorce), PNDC Law 113 (administration of the estate) and PNDC Law 114 (head of family accountability).
PNDC Law 114 states that any property belonging to the matrilineal lineage must go to that family, upon the death of the head of the family. Properties belonging to the matrilineal lineage include all land, farms and houses the father inherited from the matrilineal lineage.
Some persons have criticized the matrilineal system of inheritance as an old custom that should be discarded as the world has gradually moved full mode into the nuclear family system.
The practice itself is dying out among the Asantes due to changing economic and social circumstances. As a result, fathers currently tend to be responsible for their own children, instead of caring for nephews and nieces.
However, when an Asante has not indicated his wishes to the contrary, “inheritance generally falls to the man’s sister’s son who, as a lineage member of the younger generation is the presumptive heir”