A homeowner (A) had a self-acquired property. He died in 2005. His wife (B) was made the sole owner though a release deed signed by their three children in 2013. B sold the property to another person (C) in 2016. Now C is trying to sell the property to another individual (D). The question is, how to make sure that A and B have only three surviving children? If it turns out that they had other heirs, can they come forward to sue C or D? Is there any form of legal protection that C or D can seek in order to prevent such disputes from arising?
—Name withheld on request
It is assumed that the erstwhile owner, which is A, dies intestate, that is, he didn’t make a Will.
It would be preferable to ascertain if the release deeds by each of the three children are registered with the concerned sub-registrar of assurances and the property is transferred solely to wife (B).
To ensure that there are no more children of B, who would raise a claim in the subject property, before executing any sale deed, D may conduct a legal due diligence with respect of the title of the property held by C, and also issue a public notice to verify if any third party, including any children of B, has any right in the subject property, and obtain appropriate indemnity in case of a claim.
As for the sale of the immovable property subsequently, by C to D, it will be a normal sale transaction, which should be carried out by first conducting a title investigation of the immovable property and, thereafter, by executing and registering the sale deed.
To be a bona fide purchaser of immovable property, a buyer has to prove that he had acted in a prudent manner prior to purchasing the immovable property and has paid the entire consideration, which was agreed upon, to the seller. Further, note that under Indian laws, any transaction may be challenged in the appropriate court of law, provided that it is sustainable in terms of legal parameters.
Aradhana Bhansali is partner, Rajani Associates. Queries and views at firstname.lastname@example.org