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Ask Mint Money | If only right to stay in a house is bequeathed, you can’t deal in it

Ask Mint Money | If only right to stay in a house is bequeathed, you can’t deal in it
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First Published: Mon, May 02 2011. 09 47 PM IST
Updated: Mon, May 02 2011. 09 47 PM IST
I jointly owned a house with my father. After he passed away, I inherited his share through a duly registered will. However, in the said registered will, he had provided that my mother would have the right to stay in the house till she is alive and after her death, I would be the full owner and occupier of the house. The will also restrains any other person to claim the said property. Am I required to complete any formalities with respect to this inheritance and can I get the property mutated in my name, which is already registered in my favour jointly with my father?
-B Kumar
It is assumed that what has been bequeathed to your mother through your father’s will is only a life interest in the house; which means she has only a right to stay in the house but not the right to deal with it. In your case, as your father’s share of the house was bequeathed to you by your father with only a specific right granted to your mother to reside in the house till she is alive, your father’s share of the house got vested in you at the time of his death.
However, note that your father’s share will vest in you only if you fulfil the condition of his will directing that your mother resides in the house during her lifetime. You will also not be able to sell the house during your mother’s lifetime if such a sale results in displacing your mother from the house.
Subject to the conditions mentioned above, you will be able to get the property mutated in your name. However, this will not prevent someone from challenging the will. If someone challenges the will, the sound mind and disposing capacity of the testator (your father) will have to be proved to counter such a challenge. Also, keep in mind that depending on where the house is situated or where your family resides, it may be necessary to have the will probated.
I want to draw up a will and leave a certain sum of money to one of my nieces with the condition that she should inherit the same only after attaining the age of 21. She is now 12 years old. If she dies before attaining the age of 21, then I would want to leave the same to her brother. Is this possible?
-S Malhotra
Yes, this is possible as per the provisions of section 131 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925. This section provides that a bequest may be made to a person with a condition that in case a specified uncertain event happens, the thing bequeathed shall pass to another person. In this case, your niece takes a vested interest in the amount. However, if she dies before the age of 21, then she will be divested of this interest and it will vest in her brother. Up to the time your niece attains the age of 21, her brother only has a contingent interest in the said amount.
Queries and views at mintmoney@livemint.com
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First Published: Mon, May 02 2011. 09 47 PM IST