Next of Kin; By Safiya I. Dantiye

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PERHAPS when people start working, they are not married or their children are small, so they put their brothers’ names as their next-of-kin.

In those days, this used to cause problems if a man dies and his brothers or rather the next-of-kin, would collect his benefits and leave the wife and the children high and dry.

Due to complaints and seeing what actually happened, some organisations would insist on dealing with the widow.

And in some cases, the men would find somebody to hold their property and if they die that person may blatantly refuse to give the property and money to the family. He would insist it is his own or dare the family to take him to court. He would capitalise on the knowledge that the property is sourced from corruption and the family would not want that exposed. They would rather let a sleeping dog lie.

In one such case, the person entrusted with the property died and his widow refused to give the property to the owner even though she knew the property was not her husband’s.

Still some men have legitimate source of money, but they still prefer to deal with other people if not as next-of-kin, but as the sole person trusted with the knowledge of their assets.

In all this, where is the wife, why is she side-lined? Some people used to believe that you cannot tell your wife about your earnings, much less your assets because if she knows she would be demanding many things. Therefore, many women don’t know how many houses, plots of land and so on their husbands have. Sometimes, they learn a thing or two from someone else, and they keep quiet, afraid to ask the husbands, since they didn’t tell them.

There was a man who entrusted his property consisting of houses and a plaza to his trusted cousin, but he had difficulty in owning up when the cousin died. They family of the deceased was not happy, it wanted to hold on to some of the houses, but he prevailed.

“This is a good lesson for him and other men. If he is the one that died his cousin may never bring everything to us,” the wife said. “You see in some cultures the men take their wives into confidence on everything they have, but not our men,” she added.

Perhaps in those cultures the brothers of the deceased would descend like vultures and take everything from the widows.

Somebody said he grew up in a very wealthy home with domestic servants. Suddenly, his father died when he was seven years old and that was the end; his uncles collected everything. His mother, who had drivers at her disposal, had to hawk in the streets to raise them.

In any event, it is high time men changed that perspective of hiding their assets from their wives. Where they do because the wives would demand so many things, I believe with proper explanation, they would understand that the asset or money is not for squandermania.

Only God knows who would die first. If the wife dies first the husband may have a re-think and put his affairs in order and let the children know. But if the husband dies first with his property in the hands of other people that the wife may not even know, it is a problem.

If this happens, people that fear God may come and declare what is in their possession but some would never do so even blood relatives or best friends.

Even if not meant to spite your wife, it may look so and you may end up depriving your children of what should be theirs. And where brothers are next-of-kin, some may also short-change the family of the deceased.

If the money or property is much, they would target the widow and the children and make them as their enemies.

This is not in any way pitting brother against a brother as many brothers take care of their late brothers’ children like their own.

However, the reality is that after a while, the widow may be left alone to find a means of livelihood, as the assistance from the late husband’s brothers may not continue. But if she is a rich widow who doesn’t need any assistance, some men may want to marry her just for her money.

While brothers are brothers, next-of-kin or not, wives are wives and they should know about the affairs that concern the family, especially affairs affecting the future of their children.

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