Wills / Trusts

What Does the Succession Law Say?

Soumya Shekhar
Soumya Shekhar 05 min read 1075 Views
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Throughout your life, you will acquire multiple properties. All of these properties, taken together, comprise your estate. When you pass away, your estate must find new owners. Otherwise, it will be left in an 'ownerless' estate. 

Thus, after you pass away, your estate will pass to new owners. This process is known as Succession or Inheritance. The new owners of your estate are known as your successors. Succession Law is the law that governs this entire process. Succession is different from Inheritance. Inheritance is the process of the heir inheriting his ancestors' Property. Succession governs how the inheritance would take place. Typically, under Indian Succession Law, a succession certificate is required. Succession Certificate is credible proof that the person obtaining the same is the rightful heir. 

 

Types of Succession

Succession is of two types: 

  1. Testamentary Succession. 

  2. Intestate Succession. 

After your death, the succession of your estate will be either testamentary or intestate. It cannot be both at the same time. If you have left behind a Will, the succession of your estate will be testamentary. Otherwise (that is, if you have not left behind a Will), your estate's succession will be intestate. 

 

Testamentary Succession

Testamentary succession is nothing more than executing a will. A will would then govern how your property is distributed among your legal heirs. A will includes the following information: 

a) Who gets your estate 

b) How is your estate distributed among the various heirs? 

Persons named in your will are your legatees. You can choose anyone to be your legatee. It is not required that a legatee is your relative. Wills are recognized under the Indian Succession laws.

The Indian Succession Act, 1925 governs the making and enforcing of Wills. It is the law which governs testamentary succession in India. Indian Succession Act, 1925 applies to everyone, except Muslims. Muslims are governed by their own personal laws. A Will gives you freedom to distribute your property according to your wishes.  However, if you are a Muslim, you cannot bequeath by a Will any more than 1/3 of your estate unless your legal heirs' consent to exceed this cap. There is no such limitation for anyone else.

You can execute your Will in accordance with the Indian Succession Act, 1925, if you are not a Muslim. If you are a Muslim, you have to execute your Will according to the Muslim personal laws. Capture the will in writing and sign it. You can also affix your thumb impression on the Will. Two witnesses need to attest the Will. These witnesses should have seen you sign the Will. A Will can be executed on plain paper. A Will need not be executed on a stamp paper. It is also not necessary to be registered.

Muslims can execute their Wills through a far easier procedure. Your Will need not be signed or written. It can even be oral. There is no need for attesting witnesses. You need to make your intent clear through your Will. However, oral wills are difficult to prove. Hence, It is preferable to capture your will in writing. 

After one passes away, a person should be made responsible to execute the will. Typically, lawyers are given this responsibility.  When another person implements the instructions given in the Will of a deceased, it is called executing the Will. The person who executes the Will is called an executor. Executors take care that the estate is distributed in accordance with the Will. There can be multiple executors. You can choose one person or more than one person to act as executors of your Will.  Remember to take their consent. Choosing an executor should be a careful process. If you don't appoint an executor, or the executors refuse to act as executors after your death, the competent court can appoint some of your legal heirs as the executor[s].

 

Intestate Succession

If you die without leaving a Will, your property would pass on through Intestate succession. Laws governing intestate succession in India are not uniform. You are governed by the personal law of your religion. 

Different laws of intestate succession govern different religions in India. For instance, Hindu Succession Act, 1956 governs the intestate succession for Hindus.  Indian Succession Act, 1925, governs the intestate succession for Christians. Hence, if you are a Hindu, then the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 will apply; if you are a Christian, then the Indian Succession Act, 1925 will apply, etc.

While different laws apply to different religions, the core provisions are uniform across all laws. Certain persons will become the new owners of your estate. These persons are known as your legal heirs.

Each legal heir will inherit a specific share of your estate. The applicable Law of Intestate Succession will hence specify both your legal heirs and the shares of your estate each legal heir is entitled to inherit.

For instance, consider a married Hindu male. If you are a Hindu married male, ordinarily, your wife, sons, daughters, and mother are your legal heirs. They will each take an equal share of your estate. If you pass away leaving behind,a son, daughter and a wife, each of them will be entitled to an equal share. If your daughter is already deceased and is survived by her daughter, then your grand-daughter would also have a right in the property through her deceased mother. 

People Also Read This: Know About Inheritance Rights in India

Hindu Law of Succession

The Hindu Law of Succession is contained in the following three sources: 

  1. The Indian Succession Act, 1925, which governs the testamentary succession of the estate of a Hindu. 

  2. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, which governs the intestate succession of the estate of a Hindu. 

  3. The succession of Hindu Joint Family Property, in almost the whole of India except some eastern regions, continues to be governed by ancient religious rules. This is quite a small portion of the Hindu Law of Succession. 

Succession in Hindu Law makes a distinction between two types of Property: (1) Joint Family Property and (2) Self-Acquired Property. In almost all parts of India except portions of the eastern region, the rules of succession governing Joint Family Property, and Self-Acquired Property, are different.  

The Hindu Succession Amendment Act of 2005 has now started giving daughters also succession rights. 

Those who read this Article also Consulted a Lawyer about Succession and Wills. 

The Indian Succession Act, 1925

The Indian Succession Act 1925, is one of the oldest Indian statutes governing succession. It governs intestate succession for Christians, Parsis, and some other religions. 

However, the Indian Succession Act is special for two other reasons. 

  1. It is the uniform law that governs testamentary succession for all religions except Islam. Hence, unless you are a Muslim, the entire process of preparing and executing a will, beginning from you authoring it to your wishes in it being carried out, will be governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925. 

  2. Even in cases of intestate succession controlled by other religious laws, the Indian Succession Act has a role to play in some respects. For instance, the Act contains the procedure for appointing administrators for your estate. Administrators are responsible for distributing your estate to your legal heirs. Another important function is, succession certificates are issued under the Indian Succession Act. A Succession Certificate issued to a particular person will establish that they are entitled to succeed as a part of your estate.

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What Does the Succession Law Say?
Wills / Trusts

What Does the Succession Law Say?

Throughout your life, you will acquire multiple properties. All of these properties, taken together, comprise your estate. When you pass away, your estate must find new owners. Otherwise, it will be left in an 'ownerless' estate. 

Thus, after you pass away, your estate will pass to new owners. This process is known as Succession or Inheritance. The new owners of your estate are known as your successors. Succession Law is the law that governs this entire process. Succession is different from Inheritance. Inheritance is the process of the heir inheriting his ancestors' Property. Succession governs how the inheritance would take place. Typically, under Indian Succession Law, a succession certificate is required. Succession Certificate is credible proof that the person obtaining the same is the rightful heir. 

 

Types of Succession

Succession is of two types: 

  1. Testamentary Succession. 

  2. Intestate Succession. 

After your death, the succession of your estate will be either testamentary or intestate. It cannot be both at the same time. If you have left behind a Will, the succession of your estate will be testamentary. Otherwise (that is, if you have not left behind a Will), your estate's succession will be intestate. 

 

Testamentary Succession

Testamentary succession is nothing more than executing a will. A will would then govern how your property is distributed among your legal heirs. A will includes the following information: 

a) Who gets your estate 

b) How is your estate distributed among the various heirs? 

Persons named in your will are your legatees. You can choose anyone to be your legatee. It is not required that a legatee is your relative. Wills are recognized under the Indian Succession laws.

The Indian Succession Act, 1925 governs the making and enforcing of Wills. It is the law which governs testamentary succession in India. Indian Succession Act, 1925 applies to everyone, except Muslims. Muslims are governed by their own personal laws. A Will gives you freedom to distribute your property according to your wishes.  However, if you are a Muslim, you cannot bequeath by a Will any more than 1/3 of your estate unless your legal heirs' consent to exceed this cap. There is no such limitation for anyone else.

You can execute your Will in accordance with the Indian Succession Act, 1925, if you are not a Muslim. If you are a Muslim, you have to execute your Will according to the Muslim personal laws. Capture the will in writing and sign it. You can also affix your thumb impression on the Will. Two witnesses need to attest the Will. These witnesses should have seen you sign the Will. A Will can be executed on plain paper. A Will need not be executed on a stamp paper. It is also not necessary to be registered.

Muslims can execute their Wills through a far easier procedure. Your Will need not be signed or written. It can even be oral. There is no need for attesting witnesses. You need to make your intent clear through your Will. However, oral wills are difficult to prove. Hence, It is preferable to capture your will in writing. 

After one passes away, a person should be made responsible to execute the will. Typically, lawyers are given this responsibility.  When another person implements the instructions given in the Will of a deceased, it is called executing the Will. The person who executes the Will is called an executor. Executors take care that the estate is distributed in accordance with the Will. There can be multiple executors. You can choose one person or more than one person to act as executors of your Will.  Remember to take their consent. Choosing an executor should be a careful process. If you don't appoint an executor, or the executors refuse to act as executors after your death, the competent court can appoint some of your legal heirs as the executor[s].

 

Intestate Succession

If you die without leaving a Will, your property would pass on through Intestate succession. Laws governing intestate succession in India are not uniform. You are governed by the personal law of your religion. 

Different laws of intestate succession govern different religions in India. For instance, Hindu Succession Act, 1956 governs the intestate succession for Hindus.  Indian Succession Act, 1925, governs the intestate succession for Christians. Hence, if you are a Hindu, then the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 will apply; if you are a Christian, then the Indian Succession Act, 1925 will apply, etc.

While different laws apply to different religions, the core provisions are uniform across all laws. Certain persons will become the new owners of your estate. These persons are known as your legal heirs.

Each legal heir will inherit a specific share of your estate. The applicable Law of Intestate Succession will hence specify both your legal heirs and the shares of your estate each legal heir is entitled to inherit.

For instance, consider a married Hindu male. If you are a Hindu married male, ordinarily, your wife, sons, daughters, and mother are your legal heirs. They will each take an equal share of your estate. If you pass away leaving behind,a son, daughter and a wife, each of them will be entitled to an equal share. If your daughter is already deceased and is survived by her daughter, then your grand-daughter would also have a right in the property through her deceased mother. 

People Also Read This: Know About Inheritance Rights in India

Hindu Law of Succession

The Hindu Law of Succession is contained in the following three sources: 

  1. The Indian Succession Act, 1925, which governs the testamentary succession of the estate of a Hindu. 

  2. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, which governs the intestate succession of the estate of a Hindu. 

  3. The succession of Hindu Joint Family Property, in almost the whole of India except some eastern regions, continues to be governed by ancient religious rules. This is quite a small portion of the Hindu Law of Succession. 

Succession in Hindu Law makes a distinction between two types of Property: (1) Joint Family Property and (2) Self-Acquired Property. In almost all parts of India except portions of the eastern region, the rules of succession governing Joint Family Property, and Self-Acquired Property, are different.  

The Hindu Succession Amendment Act of 2005 has now started giving daughters also succession rights. 

Those who read this Article also Consulted a Lawyer about Succession and Wills. 

The Indian Succession Act, 1925

The Indian Succession Act 1925, is one of the oldest Indian statutes governing succession. It governs intestate succession for Christians, Parsis, and some other religions. 

However, the Indian Succession Act is special for two other reasons. 

  1. It is the uniform law that governs testamentary succession for all religions except Islam. Hence, unless you are a Muslim, the entire process of preparing and executing a will, beginning from you authoring it to your wishes in it being carried out, will be governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925. 

  2. Even in cases of intestate succession controlled by other religious laws, the Indian Succession Act has a role to play in some respects. For instance, the Act contains the procedure for appointing administrators for your estate. Administrators are responsible for distributing your estate to your legal heirs. Another important function is, succession certificates are issued under the Indian Succession Act. A Succession Certificate issued to a particular person will establish that they are entitled to succeed as a part of your estate.

Intestate Succession or Succession without a WILL: Things you should know
Wills / Trusts

Intestate Succession or Succession without a WILL: Things you should know

Intestate succession means a succession without a will. A will generally dictates how a person plans to transfer his assets or properties after his death to his/her heirs. A person dies intestate when he has not bequeathed his properties according to a will. Succession can either be testate or intestate. 

Meaning of Testate Succession

In some cases, a person leaves behind a Will, which specifies property distribution after their death. In such cases, the Will controls succession.

When succession takes place in this manner, it is known as testamentary succession

Meaning of Intestate Succession

In other cases, a person does not leave behind a will. In such cases, intestate succession law controls succession. Thus, the persons who become entitled to the deceased's properties are the deceased's, legal heirs. In India, the succession law applicable to a deceased's estate depends on their religion. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, etc., have different succession laws. When succession takes place in this manner, it is known as intestate succession. 

Those who read this Article also Consulted a Lawyer about Will. 

 

Intestate Succession under Hindu Law

If the deceased is a Hindu, Hindu Succession law will govern the succession. The Hindu Law of Intestate Succession is in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. 

Two Types of Property

Under Hindu Law, the property is of two types: 

  1. Joint Family Property: The Hindu Joint Family is an ancient social structure prevailing in Indian society. In Hindu Law, specific properties are considered Joint Family Property. Generally, all property inherited from one's father, paternal grandfather, and paternal great-grandfather are considered Joint Family Property. 

  2. Self-Acquired Property: All other properties are considered the Self-Acquired Property of the respective person. The most unambiguous indication of Self-Acquired Property is that it is acquired with the money of one's efforts.

This distinction is important because, depending on where you reside, different rules govern the succession of Joint Family Property and Self-Acquired Property. 

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The succession of Joint Family Property

Depending on where you reside, you will be governed either by Dayabhaga Law or Mitakshara Law. Generally, Hindus living in West Bengal, Orissa, and parts of Assam, are governed by Mitakshara Law, and Mitakshara Law governs all other Hindus. Both of these refer to old schools of religious Hindu law that prevailed in these respective geographical regions. Once upon a time, these schools of law governed the substantial part of Hindu succession. Today, there are of minimal significance. Legally, its only importance in the present is determining the order of intestate succession.

Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act governs the Mitakshara Joint Family Property's succession. When a coparcener dies, their share in the Joint Family Property passes to the legal heirs according to the rules contained in this Section. The process is as follows: 

  1. You divide the whole joint family property amongst the deceased and their legal heirs. Usually, the deceased, their wife, their children (both sons and daughters), and their parents get equal shares.

  2. The share the deceased person receives becomes his self-acquired property. This share passes to the deceased's legal heirs according to the rules governing Self-Acquired Property's succession (see below).

The succession of Self-Acquired Property

The rules governing the succession of Self-Acquired Property of the deceased varies based on the gender of the deceased. However, the same rules apply to all Hindus regardless of whether Dayabhaga Law or Mitakshara Law governs them. 

For male Hindus, there are four categories of legal heirs: Class I heirs, Class II heirs, agnates, and cognates. The Schedule of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 specifies Class I heirs and Class II heirs. An agnate is a person who is (i) neither a Class I heir nor a Class II heir, but (ii) is a descendant of the deceased through a pure male line. A cognate is a person who is (i) neither a Class I heir nor a Class II heir, but (ii) is a descendant of the deceased through a line consisting of both males and females. The order of intestate succession in self-acquired property is as follows:

  1. Class I Heirs: If any Class I heir[s] exist, they get the deceased's whole Self-Acquired Property. If more than one such heir exists, they both get equal shares. The deceased's wife, sons, daughters, and mother are notable Class I heirs. However, the father of the deceased is not a Class I heir. 

  2. Class II Heirs: If not a single Class I heir exists, the whole Self-Acquired Property of the deceased goes to the Class II heirs. The deceased's father, brothers, and sisters are notable Class II heirs. If the father is alive, he takes the whole property. If he isn't alive, then the brothers and sisters take the property in equal shares. 

  3. Agnates: If there are no Class I and Class II heirs, the deceased's agnates take the whole of the Self-Acquired Property. 

  4. Cognates: If there are no Class I and Class II heirs, the deceased's cognates take the whole of the Self-Acquired Property. 

A different set of rules applies to female Hindus. For female Hindus, the order of intestate succession for legal heirs is: (i) sons, daughters, and husband; (ii) heirs of the husband; (iii) parents; (iv) heirs of the father; and (vi) heirs of the mother. Each category is preferred to the later ones, in that order of preference. All heirs of the same class get equal shares of the property. 

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Position of Illegitimate Children

The intestate succession of an illegitimate child is only through his mother. An illegitimate child's share in intestate succession is restricted to his mother and not his father.  

Those who read this Article also Consulted a Lawyer about Property inhritance rights. 

Gift Deed: All you should know.
Wills / Trusts

Gift Deed: All you should know.

You want to gift your near and dear ones some property? You can do so by drafting a gift deed! A gift deed is a legal instrument for transferring moveable and immoveable property. The transfer of property by a gift deed is voluntary and without any consideration. A gift is generally made based on love and affection, for example, the gift of ancestral property by a grandfather to grandchildren. Section 122 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1822 governs a gift deed. Under Section 117 of the Registration Act, it is compulsory to register the same if you gift an immovable property. 

How to Draft a Gift Deed?

A gift deed should include the following information: 

  • Date and place where you will execute the gift deed. 

  • Names of the donor and donee.

  • Address of the donor and donee. 

  • What is the relationship between them?

  • What is the property being gifted?

  • Signatures of two witnesses. 

  • Signatures of the donor and the donee. 

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How to Draft a Gift Deed of Immovable Property?

A Gift Deed is mandatory for a gift of immovable property to be effective. It would help if you keep the following in mind while drafting a gift deed of immovable property:

  1. It should be in writing. 

  2. The donor must sign it. 

  3. Two independent witnesses should attest it. Hence, the witnesses must not be the donor, or the beneficiary, of the gift. 

  4. Stamp duty is payable on gifts of immovable property. The Gift Deed must be executed on stamp paper of the same value as the stamp duty payable. The exact stamp duty payable varies from state to state. It is usually 2-5% of the market value of the property. Some states offer stamp duty concessions for gifts to blood relatives. 

  5. Finally, the duly executed and stamped Gift Deed must be registered with the local Sub-Registrar of Assurances. Some states charge a registration fee, which varies from a few hundred to 1-2% of the property's market value. 

A good Gift Deed of Immovable Property should contain at least the following elements in its content: 

  1. You should describe the property you are gifting. Typically, a statement of the plot number, the locality/street, the local post office, the panchayat or urban authority, the block, the sub-district, the district, the state, and the PIN Code, will be sufficient to identify any property in India uniquely. 

  2. It may be prudent also to specify the boundaries and size of the property and the survey number of the property in the state's land records. These details can be obtained from the land records of the state in which the property is situated. 

  3. A statement of the nature of the donor's title over the property. How the donor acquired title over the property must be mentioned. The best practice is to identify the Deed by which the donor came to be the owner of the property by its registration number, year of execution, and the office where it was registered.   

  4. The fair-market value of the property should be explicitly mentioned. This is necessary to calculate the stamp duty payable on the gift. 

  5. An explicit statement that the transfer of the property has been made, for no consideration and freely and voluntarily. 

  6. A statement of acceptance by the beneficiary of the gift. This is essential because a gift doesn't take effect unless the beneficiary accepts it. 

How to Draft a Gift Deed of Movable Property

A Gift Deed is not mandatory for a gift of movable property. However, you can draft a Gift Deed for gifts of movable property too. If a Gift Deed is executed, it must be executed in exactly the same way as, the process for executing a Gift Deed of Immovable Property as explained above. 

A good Gift Deed of movable Property should contain at least the following elements in its content: 

  1.  Try to identify the property by some unique identification associated with it. For instance, a car can be uniquely identified by its motor vehicle registration details; the machinery can be uniquely identified by its invoice number and supplier details, etc. 

  2. A statement of the nature of the donor's title over the property. 

  3. Mention the fair market value of the property.

  4. An explicit statement that the transfer of the property has been made, for no consideration and freely and voluntarily. 

  5. A statement of acceptance by the beneficiary of the gift. A gift doesn't take effect unless the beneficiary accepts it. 

  6. Date, place, and time of execution.

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How to Draft a Gift Deed of Money?

No stamp duty is payable on a gift of money. A Gift Deed of Money is not required to be registered. If the parties wish to, then they can register it, but this is not mandatory. Hence, a Gift Deed of Money can very well be executed on plain paper and signed by the parties. You can also execute it by an exchange of letters between the parties containing a clear offer followed by an unconditional acceptance of that offer. 

A good Gift Deed of Immovable Property should contain at least the following elements in its content: 

  1. The amount of money being gifted

  2. Identify the money being gifted by the currency note numbers, cheque numbers, bank transfer numbers, etc.  

  3. An explicit statement that the transfer has been made for no consideration. 

Documents Required for Registration of Gift Deed

  1. The duly executed, and stamped, Gift Deed must be presented to the office of the local Sub-Registrar of Assurances for registration. 

  2. Some states may require the advocate, or registered deed-writer, who drafted the Gift Deed to affix a declaration, and their registration number, on the Deed. 

  3. A true certified copy of the Gift Deed. This copy will be retained by the registering authority. The Registration Rules of the state in which the Deed is being registered will specify the procedure for making a true certified copy of the Deed. 

  4. Proof of payment of the registration fees payable, if any. 

  5. Identity, and Address, Proofs of all the parties and the attesting witnesses.

Those who read this Article also Consulted a Lawyer about Gift Deed and Property Transfer. 

 

What is the Difference Between A Gift Deed and a Property Sale?

Once a property is transferred to you as a gift, you are its owner. The gifted property can be sold. But, a gift deed is different from a property sale. A property sale involves the payment of some money for the transfer of property. A gift deed is voluntary and without any payment of money. Hence, once you have validly registered the gift deed and are the property owner, you can sell the gifted property for consideration. 

Drafting a gift deed for an immovable property may involve many legal implications, such as tax considerations. Prefer hiring a lawyer to draft a gift deed for immovable property. 

Testamentary Succession: Will it fair and square
Wills / Trusts

Testamentary Succession: Will it fair and square

It is hard to cope up when a loved one passes away, even harder when the deceased is the head of the family. Some plan for succession and create a Will while they are alive. However, many don’t foresee the need and leave it to chance. In such situations, it is tough for the rest of the family members to decide how the property Will be divided amongst and transferred to heirs. Who gets what, when and how remains some uncomfortable questions?

Testamentary Succession is the possible answer. This post shares insights on what does it mean, frequently used terms related to Testamentary succession under The Indian Succession Act 1925, characteristics of a valid Will, importance of having a Will and how Hindu Law governs Testamentary succession.

Meaning of Testamentary Succession:

In simple terms, it is defined as the succession of property by a WILL or TESTAMENT as per applicable rules of law. As per Hindu Law, any male or female can make a Will to transfer his or her property or assets to anyone. The Will is treated as valid and enforceable by law. 

An important point to note here is that the transfer of property happens as per provisions mentioned in the Will and not as per the inheritance law. However, if the Will is invalid or illegal then the transfer or devolution of property happens as per the law of inheritance. Alternatively, Testamentary succession is also referred to as right of inheritance.

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Common Terms related to Testamentary Succession under Hindu Law

It is important to understand the frequently used terms that might sound complicated but are easy to interpret. They are:

  • Will – A legal declaration created by a person expressing clear intention or wish with regards to how his or her property and assets Will be transferred after death.

  • Testator – A person who creates his or her Will.

  • Executor – A person appointed by the Testator for executing the Will.

  • Administrator – A person appointed by the Court for executing the Will.

  • Attestation of Will – It is the process of signing the Will by two witnesses to verify the signatures of the executant.

  • Codicil – A legal document made by Testator and signed by two witnesses for making minor changes in the Will that has already been executed.

  • Probate – It is a documentary evidence of the appointment of the Executor and establishes the validity of the Will.

  • Letter of Administration – A certificate granted by the Court for appointing an Administrator of the Will.

Those who read this Article also Consulted a Lawyer about Will and inheritance. 

Important Characteristics of a Valid Will

A Testator must consider the following essential characteristics while creating his or her Will:

  • It is a written document expressing the testator's clear intentions or desire with respect to transfer of his or her assets or property.

  • It can be created by any person of age 18 years or above who is capable of entering into an agreement.

  • A person influenced by alcohol or fear or affected by illness or fraud cannot make a Will.

  • The Indian Succession Act, 1925 does not prescribe any specific format of writing a Will.

  • Minor unintentional errors in a Will – error in name spellings or details of property – does not alter the true intention of the testator.

  • The Testator should sign the Will which should be countersigned by two witnesses. In cases where the testator cannot sign, thumb impressions of the testator should be taken.

  • The signature of the testator should appear at the bottom of the page or at the end of the contents of the Will.

  • The witnesses to the Will should not be the beneficiaries themselves.

  • A Will comes into force only after the death of the testator.

  • And finally, it is not mandatory to make the Will document on a stamp paper and register it. The testator can also write it on a plain paper.

People Also Read This: How to Inherit Property in India?

Why is having a Will Important?

Each person wishes that his legal heirs stay a part of the cohesive family even after his or her death and that there are no fights over property matters. After all, fair division of property is a sensitive matter. In today’s times, if it is done properly, it can make long lasting relationships and if done otherwise, it breaks relations forever.

It is for this purpose, making a fair Will comes very handy. The testator must clearly document his or her desires with respect to the assets that his legal heirs would carry out after his or her death. The Will must clearly state how the testator's property Will be transferred, to whom it Will be transferred, how much share of property Will be transferred to different heirs and so on.

Generally, a very common question arises here as to what happens if a person dies without leaving a Will behind? In such cases, the division and transfer of property happens by way of law. This is called intestate succession.

Which law governs Testamentary Succession?

In India, Testamentary succession is governed by The Indian Succession Act 1925 including the intestate succession. Most importantly, this law extends to the whole of India but is only applicable to the Wills and codicils of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains by religion.

Also, for Hindus, the intestate succession and all its exceptions are codified in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. It does not apply to Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews. For example, Muslims are allowed to dispose their property and assets according to Muslim Law.

Conclusion

It is always advisable to write a well thought and a fair Will. In case of any ambiguity or in the absence of a Will, there is a possibility that the legal heirs of the deceased would engage in unwanted ugly legal battles for claiming their rightful share.

Legal Experts at LegalKart can help draft a Will that best suits your requirement. 

Those who read this Article also Consulted a Lawyer about Will and inheritance.

Power of Attorney in India for Selling Property
Property

Power of Attorney in India for Selling Property

NRIs use Power of Attorney (‘POA’) as an instrument to appoint an agent/attorney to help them sell their properties in India. NRIs find it difficult to come to India and sell their property, and hence, the concept of a power of attorney exists. A power of attorney authorizes its holder to enter into transactions and take decisions on behalf of the actual owner of the property. 

Special Power of Attorney for Purchase of Property: India Format

 

You can find the format of a power of attorney here,. You should draft a POA on a green stamp/bond paper or a non-judicial stamp paper of INR 100. The NRI should authorise the power of attorney himself and the Indian Consulate in the country of residence. Once authorised, the NRI should send a power of attorney to the sub-registrar’s office and relevant witnesses, identity proofs, and photograph copies.

 

 

You should include certain clauses in a PoA to ensure that no loopholes could pose a threat to the NRI/owner/principal in case of a dispute. Some of these clauses are:

 

 

  • Full details of the parties, including relevant information such as name, age, address, occupation, etc.

  • The reason for entering into this agreement (sale or purchase of property by the NRI in India)

  • Termination clause to ensure that the power is not misused beyond the fulfillment of the objective of this agreement.

  • The clarity in the specific powers granted to the agent and the attached responsibility.

 

 

Power of Attorney by NRI to Buy Property in India

 

 

NRIs often purchase property in India for investment purposes or to have a visiting home/holiday home. However, most NRIs do not have the time to come to India to execute the Sale Deed/Agreement for Sale transaction. Therefore, a power of attorney for purchase of property by an NRI facilitates sale transactions legally. Moreover, NRIs would require a special power of attorney to execute a transaction. Through a general power of attorney, no NRI would be able to sell or purchase property in India. 

 

 

A special power of attorney gives an agent the power to act on behalf of the principal (NRI) for a specific matter, including but not limited to taking legal or financial decisions. 

 

 

To have an effective POA for the purchase of property, an NRI must sign the POA agreement in the presence of a consulate officer or Notary in the country of residence. Further, such consulate officers must attest to the agreement for it to be valid. The NRI should register the POA under the Indian Registration Act, 1908, to make it valid and enforceable in India.

 

 

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Power of Attorney to Sell Property in India

 

 

Power of attorney to sell property in India also requires authorization from the country of residence. Let us examine a few countries of residence and the procedures related to power of attorney therein.

 

 

Australia:

 

 

An NRI must book an appointment with a Notary in Australia where the NRI and two witnesses and the Notary officer would sign the POAon a green stamped or bond paper. 

 

 

After notarizing the POA, you would send it to the Indian Consulate, who would stamp it with an Apostille by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) and then send it back to India to the appropriate authority duty charges prescribed by the local government.

 

 

Then, you can register the agreement, and the transaction can legally take place.

 

 

UK:

 

 

There is a 3-step process when an NRI from the UK wishes to purchase or sell property in India. 

 

 

Firstly, an attorney from India must draft the POA according to the needs of both parties and according to the applicable laws (ICA, 1872, or RERA, 2016, etc.) in India.

 

 

Secondly, the POA must be sent to the place of residence, i.e., the UK, where you can get it notarized by a Notary Public for a charge between 20 to 100 pounds. The concerned NRI, along with two witnesses and the Notary, will have to sign the document. After notarization, the Indian Consulate, located at the Indian High Commission, London, would attest the same. 

 

 

Thirdly, the document can be sent to the attorney in India where registration happens, and the transaction can legally take place.

 

 

USA:

 

 

There is a 3-step process when an NRI from the US wishes to purchase or sell property in India.

 

 

Firstly, an attorney from India must draft the POA, and the NRI and two witnesses should sign this agreement. The notarization of the document should be done in the presence of a Notary Public. Further, it must be sent to the Indian Consulate for his/her signature. An appropriate fee would be charged for attestation, notarization, etc.

 

 

Secondly, the POA must be sent to the Secretary of State for an apostille from the Department of State, Authentications Office, which will use the Seal of the US Department of State to authorize the document's validity will be sent overseas.

 

 

People Also Read This: Legal Considerations to Keep in Mind Before Selling Your House

 

 

Thirdly, the agreement shall be sent to the attorney in India for the legal execution of the transaction.

 

 

The POA is a powerful document and must be drafted between two parties that trust each other. The agent must be selected with caution as the agreement would transfer significant power to decide the owner/principal to the agent. A poorly drafted agreement that does not consider the risks involved (such as consideration, percentage of share between co-owners, obligations of agents, the role of decision making by an agent, etc.) would cause litigation which would severely affect the parties.

 

Permission for Sale of Minor Property
Property

Permission for Sale of Minor Property

The Indian Majority Act, 1875 specifies the age of majority in India. The Act states that the age of the majority in India is “18 years,” and any individual living in India who is below the age of 18 years is a minor. Minors cannot enter into contracts until and unless their guardians enter into contracts on their behalf. Let us find out how one gets permission to sell a minor’s property. 

 

Can a Guardian Sell Property?

 

 

Section 8 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 identifies the powers of a natural guardian or legal guardian. Clause (1) states that the natural guardian has all the power to do any act necessary, or reasonable, or proper in the eyes of the law for the sole purpose of such an Act is beneficial to the minor that it shall protect the minor or minor’s estate. 

 

 

Therefore, it is clear from the above provision that a natural guardian can sell the minor’s property (the Act) for the sole purpose of benefiting the minor.

 

 

People Also Read This: Property Rights of a Child after their parent's divorce

 

 

Can a Guardian Sell Minor’s Property?

 

 

The Supreme Court in Saroj v. Sunder Singh & Ors. held that a guardian cannot sell a minor’s share in the property without the permission of the appropriate Court. Furthermore, section 8(2) of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 states that minors’ immovable property cannot be mortgaged, charged, or transferred by sale, gift, exchange, or in any other mode without the previous permission of the Court.

 

 

Further, Section 8(3) states that if any natural guardian disposes of any immovable property in contravention to clause (2) of Section 8, then such a sale would be voidable at the option of the minor. However, the said minor can challenge such a sale only within the limitation period, which shall begin running against them after they attain the majority.

 

 

Further, suppose a minor, after attaining majority, wishes to set aside the sale deed as such property belonged to the minor. In that case, such a suit must be filed within the limitation period prescribed under Article 60 of the Limitation Act, i.e, 3 years after attaining majority. 

 

 

Can a Minor Purchase Property?

 

 

For a minor to purchase property in India, he or she must enter into a valid contract of purchase and sale of such property. This agreement is known as an ‘Agreement of Sale’. Every agreement shall be a valid contract in India if it fulfils the criteria under Section 10 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. Further, Section 11 highlights competent to be a valid party in any valid contract in India.

 

 

Section 11 states that every person of the age of majority will be competent to enter into a contract if they are not barred by other conditions mentioned in the section. Therefore, a minor, i.e, anyone who is not of the age of majority (18 years), will not be competent to enter into a contract. Any agreement entered into by a minor will be void ab initio (void from the beginning) the eyes of the law. 

 

 

People Also Read This: Inheritance Rights of Grandchildren in India

 

 

The provisions under the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, especially section 6 and 7 of the Act do not bar a minor from contracting. However, from the conjoint reading of the above two Acts, it can be deduced that a minor can be a valid transferee and receive property. 

 

 

A minor can acquire property through the hands of either his/her natural guardian (mother or father) or through a guardian appointed by the appropriate Court in the absence of such natural guardian. In such a case of acquisition, the purchase of property would be valid. 

 

 

After valid purchase, the natural guardian can register the property in the name of the minor under Section 35 of the Registration Act, 1908. However, the execution of such registration shall take place before the appropriate Court’s permission after satisfaction that the property acquired was legal and valid.

 

 

A minor can acquire a property by way of gift also. Here, there is no need for the intervention of the law, Court, or guardians of the minor. The reason for the same being that in case of a gift, acceptance by the donee is the only required to make it effective.

 

 

Lastly, a minor can acquire property using inheritance, be it intestate or by way of a will. In case of ancestral property of a Joint Hindu Family, the minor (both son and daughter, since 2005) will receive an equal share in the capacity of a coparcener after the death of the last holder of the property.

 

 

Hence, a minor, though not competent to enter into a contract can sell property through his guardians. A minor can also receive property through the means listed out above.

 

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