Feuding family members of business tycoon Gerishon Kirima suffered a blow Thursday after two contested wills were thrown out by a court.
Mr Justice Isaac Lenaola ruled that the two wills drawn by lawyers in Nairobi and London were prepared when Kirima was not of sound mind.
The judge declared that the tycoon died without a will and that his Sh700 million estate will be distributed under intestacy laws. Mr Kirima died in December 2010.
“I find that there was influence from either camp of the family in the two wills,” the judge said.
He, however, found that the Kirima Trust, which controls the majority of his vast estate, was a genuine document, and urged the family to use it to secure the estate.
A will must have been made without duress or undue influence before it is declared lawful. The disputed wills pitied Kirima’s third wife, Ms Teresia Wairimu, against her step-sons and step-daughters.
Ms Wairimu claimed the will drawn up by lawyer Joseph Kahari in Nairobi was the genuine document, while her step-children claimed the will drawn up by lawyer Ambrose Rachier in London reflected Kirima’s true and final wishes.
She claimed that Kirima was medically and mentally unfit, having been taken to Wellington Hospital, London, and admitted and could not have given instructions for the will.
Her step-children also disputed the Kahari document, saying, their father lacked the capacity to draw it, and that it was influenced by Ms Wairimu.
On the Kahari will, Mr Justice Lenaola ruled that it did not meet the requirements of attestation and declared it invalid. “The witnesses allegedly saw the deceased sign only one page of the document.
It leaves the question as to which pages the deceased signed in the presence of witnesses,” he said.
According to him, it was not explained why he failed to sign the last three pages of the will and why original documents annexed to it were not presented in court.
He upheld arguments that Kirima must have been held at Kitisuru residence against his free will and that the Kahari will was executed under undue influence.
On the London will, the judge ruled that it could not be Kirima’s final expressions given the medical condition he was in. “In the end, his free will was lacking and his actions can only be said to have been undertaken upon undue influence,” Mr Lenaola said.
The Kahari will favoured Ms Wairimu while the London will had Anne Kirima and her siblings as the clear beneficiaries.
Mr Justice Lenaola also said that even if Kirima had validated any of the wills, the family saga would not have ended since some of his property has been transferred in suspicious circumstances and there is huge debt to the Kenya Revenue Authority, which has not been resolved. “I have sat for one year and I have seen the conduct of each beneficiary. There is no goodwill on any side and sadly, it is the whole family that will continue to suffer unless sanity prevails,” he said.
He directed Ms Wairimu and Anne Kirima to each appoint an administrator within the next seven days to manage the estates or the court will appoint one for them and distribute the property under intestacy laws.