My grandmother made a registered Will for her property, which she bought in 2000. At the time of making the Will, she didn’t get a medical certificate stating her physical and mental conditions. The Will was signed by two witnesses. Is her Will legally valid?
It is a settled principle of law that the registration of a Will provides credibility in the execution of the same, but the mere fact that a Will is registered will not by itself be sufficient to dispel all suspicion regarding it, where suspicion exists, without submitting the evidence of registration to a close examination.
So long the propounder or beneficiary of the Will shows that the Will was signed by the testator/testatrix (grandmother); that your grandmother was at the relevant time in a sound disposing state of mind, that she understood the nature and effect of her dispositions, that she put her signature to her Will of her own free will and that she has signed it in the presence of the two witnesses who attested it in her presence and in the presence of each other. Once these elements are established, the onus which rests on the propounder is discharged as the aforesaid requirements of law are essential for the proof of execution of the Will by your grandmother. A medical certificate is not a requirement under law for proof of execution of her Will as long your grandmother was in a sound state of mind and was fully aware of her wishes and desires while making the Will and the two witnesses have attested the Will in her presence, and in presence of each other.
A person who was named in an unregistered Will used the document to register the property in their name and built a house on the same. They have all related legal documents as well. Can they lose the case if their ownership is challenged in court?
We have assumed that the person referred to is one of the beneficiaries of the Will. If all the legal requirements are satisfied and the Will is assessed to have been validly executed and a genuine document, the onus which rests on the propounder or beneficiary is discharged.
However, there may be cases in which the execution of the Will itself is surrounded by suspicious circumstances, such as, where the signature of the testator is doubtful, the testator is of feeble mind, or where in the light of the relevant circumstances the dispositions appear to be unnatural, improbable and unfair. In all such cases, the circumstances must be reviewed and satisfactorily explained before the Will is accepted. In cases where the beneficiary has himself taken a prominent part in the execution of the Will which confers on him substantial benefit, that is itself a suspicious circumstance which he must remove by clear and satisfactory evidence.
Aradhana Bhansali is partner, Rajani Associates. Queries and views at firstname.lastname@example.org