Hussain Dholkawala, Advocate
WHAT TO DO IF THERE IS NO WILL ?
Remember, our last article where a friend’s grandfather died without leaving behind the Will. We have received several queries and questions on what to do if there is no Will. And how to claim the properties of family members/ancestors, who have died without any Will. So, attempting to address some of those queries.
In case of a scenario where your family member dies without a Will, the properties of the deceased will be distributed to the family members as per the personal succession law i.e. Hindu Succession Act 1956 for Hindus, Buddhists, Jains & Sikhs and Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 for Muslims and Indian Succession Act 1925 for Christians and Parsi.
In order to claim the properties in a smooth manner you shall do following things:
1. Step No.1 –Make a list of all Assets
Find out and list down the assets i.e. movable properties like Shares, Mutual Funds, Insurance Policy, Gold, Jewelry, Pension Fund etc. and Immovable properties like Land, Plot, Shop, Office Premises, Flat etc., which your family member owned and has left behind.
This is one of the most important step in the whole process and all your later steps will depend on the type of assets which your family member has left behind, thus this step places a significant role in your journey for claiming assets under succession. Prepare a thorough and robust list of assets alongwith their locations where they are situated, this will help you to prepare the required documents for claiming assets.
2. Step No.2 – Family Tree
Prepare a family tree of the members who are entitled to the assets of deceased member as per personal succession laws. A typical family tree of a hindu married male family member is as under:
(Illustrative chart as per Hindu Succession Act applicable to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains & Sikhs)
3. Step No.3 – Meeting & Discussion
Have an open-end discussion with your family members, mediate and talk among the members of the family on how to go for distribution of the assets. This is the most important and crucial step in the whole journey of claiming assets. It is often experienced that once the senior most member of the family passes away, the family is rifted due to disputes and disgrunts over property disputes. The matter which could be easily resolved through talks and discussions goes for a courtroom battle. Remember, if Ambani brothers can settle their disputes through talks, mediation and discussion, so can you.
Inorder to have an effective mediation discussion, keep a neutral person as a mediator or you may take a professional assistance, if required. (Tip: Keep your personal grudges and past baggage’s aside when you are sitting on a discussion table, you will be amazed to see the process happening swiftly). A list of assets and family tree prepared in the above steps will play a key role in this meeting.
4. Step No.4 – Execution
Once the discussion is completed between family members you are good to go for claiming properties. The task of execution will depend mainly on the type of asset(s) left behind by the deceased member. On an illustrative basis, we have prepared a brief table to help you know which form of papers, documents you will need depending on the asset(s) left behind.
Note: The above is in an indicative list of important documents required for the particular asset. There will be various other documents required with the above documents such as KYC documents, death certificate, Application form in prescribed format etc. to file a claim.
We hope this is of assistance and makes your life to claim assets of your ancestors better and trouble free. Feel free to get in touch in case of any specific queries or assistance.