I am a Hindu and my father passed away without a Will. He had two land parcels, one ancestral property and three flats. In the absence of a Will, who all can stake claim on his assets?
—Name withheld on request
Since your father expired intestate, the personal laws of succession, i.e., the laws relating to the religion applicable to him at the time of his death shall govern his estate. We have assumed that you are governed under the Hindu laws of succession. Therefore, the self-acquired property shall devolve as per the Hindu Succession Act, more specifically upon his class 1 heirs, i.e., son, daughter, widow, mother, son of pre-deceased son, and so on. We will have to understand the family tree of your grandfather to assess ancestral property rights.
My sister who lives in the US wants to give her entire share to me from the ancestral property that we got 10 years back. What should I keep in mind to ensure that the same is not challenged at a later date? She can give it to me via gift deed or name me in the Will.
Assuming that the ancestral property is inherited solely by you and your sister, i.e., there are no other legal heirs to the coparcenary property or joint Hindu family property, your sister may either bequeath her share in the ancestral property to you by a testamentary disposition, i.e., her Will or transfer her undivided share in the property under a gift deed, duly stamped and registered at the concerned sub-registrar of assurances. If your sister opts to give her entire share under a Will, the bequest shall take effect only on her demise and it may get challenged by her legal heirs. To rule out any dispute, you should opt for gifting of the property by a registered deed during your lifetime.
Aradhana Bhansali is partner, Rajani Associates. Queries and views at firstname.lastname@example.org