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Proper succession planning is very important to ensure that the assets owned by you, including any house property, are properly inherited by the people to whom you want these to be passed on to.
With respect to property owned in housing societies, it is generally believed that making a nomination will ensure that the property will pass on to the person who is named as a nominee in the records of the society. This is not true.
Rights of nominees versus legal heirs
A nominee is merely a person, whose name can be registered as the owner in the records of the society, after the death of the owner. However, all the legal heirs of the deceased are entitled to their respective shares in the property so nominated and transferred in the name of the nominee. Experts therefore, advise that only a proper will can ensure that the property passes on to the people whom you want, should own it.
If only one person is named in the will, s/he should not have any problem in inheriting the property, unless the will itself is disputed by the other legal heirs. This had happened in the case of Mrs Priyamvada Birla, where she had bequeathed all of her property of around Rs 5,000 crores to her chartered accountant, RS Lodha, to the exclusion of her legal heirs.
Inheritance, when there are multiple properties
Problems can also arise, when the person making a will owns more than one property and does not specify the property to which each one will become entitled to. In case of multiple properties, the testator should clearly specify which property will be inherited by whom to the exclusion of others.
Problems may also arise, when a single property is passed on to more than one persons.
In case a single property is bequeathed to more than one person in definite shares, like a multi-storeyed building, the testator should specify as to which part of the building should go to whom. As far as possible, the testator should properly described the share of each person to the exclusion of others. This is even more important, if the property in question is used by the family for its residence, as it may not be possible to settle the dispute by disposing of the property and sharing the proceeds. In such cases, the will should also address the responsibility for maintenance of the property and common facilities of the building and payment of taxes to the government authorities.
In the case of old properties, the FSI on the plot may increase. Consequently, the will should clearly mention the beneficiary entitled to the additional FSI of the building, to avoid disputes on this count.
Registration of a will
A will is not required to be legally registered under the law. Nevertheless, to safeguard the interest of the beneficiaries under the will, it is always advisable to have it registered. This minimises the chances of dispute over the will and ensures that your property is passed on as intended by you. Property owners should take the help of an experienced lawyer, to prepare the will and ensure that various important aspects, which can cause dispute in future, are property addressed in the will.
(The author is a tax and investment expert, with 35 years’ experience)