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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  What should be done if relatives question our rights on property?

What should be done if relatives question our rights on property?

A UK-based NRI's relatives in India are questioning the authenticity of his father's will and ownership of property. He must obtain confirmation of the will's probate from a UK court, then use an authenticated copy of that will to obtain letters of administration from an Indian court having competent jurisdiction. If there is any question on the validity of the will, Indian courts will have to try this before allowing the executor to administer the properties in India. In such cases, a deed of family arrangement signed by all members or beneficiaries may be a prudent option to avoid litigation.

What should be done if relatives question our rights on property?Premium
What should be done if relatives question our rights on property?

I am a non-resident Indian (NRI) living in the UK. My father, who lived here as well, had executed a will pertaining to his properties in India. My relatives based in India are now questioning the authenticity of the will as well as the ownership of the property. What should I do in such a case?

—Name withheld on request

We understand from the limited facts provided to us that your father was a citizen of the UK and during his lifetime made his will for his properties in the UK and India.

For proving his will in Indian jurisdiction, you will have to obtain a confirmation akin to a probate of your father’s will from the competent court in the UK. Thereafter, you may obtain an authenticated copy of the will from the court in UK and place it before the Indian courts having competent jurisdiction for obtaining the letters of administration in India which would resolve the issue pertaining to authenticity of the will.

However, if there is a question to be decided on the validity of the will, the courts in India are bound to try the question before enabling the executor to administer the Indian properties of your late father as per the contents of the will. This will have to go through the same path which any ordinary Indian citizen would be obliged to follow in order to authenticate and confirm the will. This ought to confirm that the will is genuine and natural.

If any member of your family is questioning the authenticity of that will, they will file a caveat and list their objections, whereby the testamentary petition will become a testamentary suit.

However, to avoid the long, tedious and costly litigation process in India, which would also result in unhealthy relations among family members, it may be prudent to distribute the estate of your late father by way of a deed of family arrangement, signed by all family members or the beneficiaries of the will.

It is pertinent to note that the probate does not confirm the ownership to your property. It only confirms authenticity of the will of the deceased. We are not sure as to why your relatives are claiming a share in the property owned by your father. For that, you will have to check your ownership deeds and take suitable steps in order to restrain them from wrongfully dealing with your father’s estate, movable and immovable properties, in any manner whatsoever.

Aradhana Bhansali is partner at Rajani Associates.

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Published: 17 May 2023, 12:18 AM IST
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