LAW BOOK

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Sunil Tyagi

My de­ceased fa­ther did not write a will. Our im­me­di­ate Hindu fam­ily now com­prises of just my mother and I. He had no an­ces­tral prop­er­ties of his own. Both the prop­er­ties that he owned had been pur­chased with his own funds. Out of his good­will, he had per­mit­ted his brother’s fam­ily to oc­cupy and use one of these prop­er­ties for their res­i­dence for many years. Can they make any claim on his prop­er­ties?

—San­tosh Singh Un­der the Hindu Suc­ces­sion Act, you and your mother are Class I le­gal heirs of your de­ceased fa­ther. Only you and your mother stand to in­herit equal and un­di­vided share in both self-ac­quired prop­er­ties, to the ex­clu­sion of his brother/brother’s fam­ily. My de­ceased fa­ther left be­hind a reg­is­tered will. Un­der the will, my sib­lings and I have not been given any share in his prop­er­ties. In­stead, he has named our aunt as the sole bene­fac­tor of all his as­sets. Given that the will is a reg­is­tered doc­u­ment, can we still chal­lenge its au­then­tic­ity?

—Saroj Ra­jput Al­though the dis­po­si­tions made by your fa­ther in his will may ap­pear un­nat­u­ral or un­fair given the com­plete ab­sence of any pro­vi­sions for in­her­i­tance of his prop­er­ties by his nat­u­ral heirs, such cir­cum­stance is not au­to­mat­i­cally or al­ways viewed as a sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stance by the courts. Courts take into ac­count nu­mer­ous fac­tors and rules when de­cid­ing whether a par­tic­u­lar will is gen­uine and/or whether a par­tic­u­lar will had been duly ex­e­cuted as per the pro­vi­sions of In­dian Suc­ces­sion Act, 1925. Fur­ther, sim­ply be­cause a will has been reg­is­tered would not by it­self prove its au­then­tic­ity. You can chal­lenge your fa­ther’s reg­is­tered will if there is rea­son to be­lieve that its ex­e­cu­tion is shrouded in sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances. I had taken a property on lease three years ago. The lease deed con­tains a clause that upon ex­piry of the ini­tial pe­riod of three years, I would be en­ti­tled to lease out the premises for two more years. Am I re­quired to en­ter into a fresh lease deed with the owner to se­cure my rights?

—Pankaj Sodhi I t would de pend on t he de­tailed terms of the deed in re­spect of re­newal of lease. Sub­ject to these terms in case stamp duty and reg­is­tra­tion fee had been cal­cu­lated and paid for the en­tire pe­riod of five years, a fresh lease deed is not re­quired to be nec­es­sar­ily ex­e­cuted, by virtue of the two years be­ing only an ‘ex­ten­sion’ of the lease. How­ever, if stamp duty and reg­is­tra­tion fee had been cal­cu­lated and paid for only three years, you should en­ter into a fresh lease deed with the wwner to se­cure your rights and in­ter­est in the property. The au­thor is a se­nior part­ner at Zeus Law, a cor­po­rate commercial law firm. One of its ar­eas of spe­cial­i­sa­tions is real es­tate trans­ac­tional and lit­i­ga­tion work. If you have any queries, email us at ht­es­tates@hin­dus­tan­times.com or ht@zeus.firm.in

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