Discrimination against Indian women has continued since long. Till as recently as 2005, Indian women were not entitled to inherit property. They were not coparceners but only members of the family. In 2005, the Hindu Succession Act was amended, and hence, for the first time, daughters became coparceners. Married women are often not considered as part of their birth family. After 2005, a married woman stops being a member of her birth family but remains a coparcener. As a coparcener, she has the right to enforce partition. She can also become a Karta of a Hindu Undivided Family.
Married Women's Property Act
The Married women’s Property Act, 1874 (MWP Act) protects a married women’s property against her husband, his creditors, and his relatives. The MWP Act applies to all married women of all religions. If your husband runs a business and has creditors, they would have the first claim on his life insurance policies. If you and your husband bring such policies within the ambit of the MWP Act, then you and your children will have the first claim. MWP Act protects a married woman by ensuring that her property is not taken away by any third-party. A policy under MWP Act cannot be assigned to anyone else.
Who can be the Beneficiaries under the Married Women's Property Act?
The beneficiaries under the MWP Act are:
Married woman and the child
Married woman alone
Child (both natural and adopted)
If you are a Muslim you need to have a named insurance policy. What share would go to the wife and what share would go to the child, can be expressed as percentages of share?
How will the Beneficiaries receive their benefits under the MWP Act?
MWP Act in India considers each policy as a discrete trust. Hence, the proposer also needs to name the trustees. Trustees are generally the wife or the child. The trustee can also be an adult child of the proposer or a third person.
The moment the policy is brought under the MWP Act, a trust is created. There is no requirement to create a separate trust under the Trusts Act. Trustees can be changed at any time, but the beneficiaries once named cannot be changed.
As stated earlier, the policy cannot be assigned. Hence, the proposer cannot take a loan against the policy. This protects the married woman’s rights to her property as no creditor can, later on, claim his right over the benefits arising from the policy.
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How can I get my Insurance Plan covered under the MWP Act?
When you are taking an insurance policy, inform your insurance provider that you want your insurance plan covered under the MVP Act. You would be given an addendum along with your insurance policy. You would need to fill in the name of your beneficiaries and trustees in the addendum. Please note that it is not compulsory to name trustees. You can avail of this benefit only when you are taking the policy. You would not be able to change your insurance policy later on. You cannot assign an existing insurance policy under the Act.
What are the Safeguards Under the MWP Act?
MWP Act provides the following safeguards:
It protects the dependants of the proposers from losing out on the proposer’s property. In the absence of the protection of the MWP Act, a creditor may lay claim to the proposer’s property.
If you are a businessman, this would protect your personal property against your business debts.
If the husband’s parents want to oust the wife after the husband’s death, they will not be able to do so, if a policy is protected under the MWP Act.
Till the time the beneficiaries who are named in the policy are alive, no one else will have a right to the benefits arising from the property.
If you are part of a joint family, covering your policy under MWP may be beneficial.
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Is Surrender of Policies Allowed Under the MWP Act?
The proposer should make a surrender request. The surrender request should be signed by the policyholder and the trustee. When a surrender request is made, the beneficiary should not be a minor. The maturity benefits which arise out of the policy should go to the beneficiaries named in the policy.
MWP Act in India is a great tool in the hands of married women to protect their property. A life insurance policy protected under this Act would prevent the property of the husband from being taken away by creditors or even in some cases relatives. A married woman does not have the right to property in her marital home. Hence, it is important that the property of her husband is protected to the benefit of her and her children. Not many people know about the MWP Act. Hence, very few insurance policies are covered under the same. If you run a business or stay in a joint family or even if you are a salaried employee, it would be beneficial to cover your insurance policy under the MWP Act.
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