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probate of will Law and procedure in India

 

A person who expires has either made a ‘will’ or died ‘intestate’.

In case a person has made a ‘will’, it should be submitted for Probate after his death.

A probate means a copy of the Will, certified under the seal of a competent Court with a grant of administration of the estate to the executor of the testator. It is the official evidence of an executor’s authority. A probate granted by a competent court is conclusive evidence of the validity of a Will until it is revoked and no evidence can be admitted to impeach it except in a proceeding to revoke the probate.

In case a person dies ‘intestate’, then all the legal heirs have to apply to a competent court for a ‘Succession Certificate’ so that his property can be devolved upon his successors

What is succession Certificate:

A succession certificate is issued by a civil court to the legal heirs of a deceased person. If a person dies without leaving a will, a succession certificate can be granted by the court to realise the debts and securities of the deceased. It establishes the authenticity of the heirs and gives them the authority to have securities and other assets transferred in their names as well as inherit debts. It is issued as per the applicable laws of inheritance on an application made by a beneficiary to a court of competent jurisdiction. A succession certificate is necessary, but not always sufficient, to release the assets of the deceased. For these, a death certificate, letter of administration and no-objection certificates will be needed.

Section 372 in The Indian Succession Act, 1925
372 Application for certificate. —
(1) Application for such a certificate shall be made to the District Judge by a petition signed and verified by or on behalf of the applicant in the manner prescribed by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) for the signing and verification of a plaint by or on behalf of a plaintiff, and setting forth the following particulars, namely:—

(a) the time of the death of the deceased;
(b) the ordinary residence of the deceased at the time of his death and, if such residence was not within the local limits of the jurisdiction of the Judge to whom the application is made, then the property of the deceased within those limits;
(c) the family or other near relatives of the deceased and their respective residences;
(d) the right in which the petitioner claims;
(e) the absence of any impediment under section 370 or under any other provision of this Act or any other enactment, to the grant of the certificate or to the validity thereof if it were granted; and
(f) the debts and securities in respect of which the certificate is applied for.
(2) If the petition contains any averment which the person verifying it knows or believes to be false, or does not believe to be true, that person shall be deemed to have committed an offence under section 198 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860).
 [(3) Application for such a certificate may be made in respect of any debt or debts due to the deceased creditor or in respect of portions thereof.]
What is the meaning of Probate of Will in India.

A Probate is a document that certifies that the copy of the Will (including Codicils, if there are any) that is attached to it, has been proved in the relevant court. A Probate is issued under a seal of the Court. A Probate can be granted by the Court only to the Executor (ie the person who will implement or execute the Will after its maker’s death). The legal effect of the grant of a Probate is that it establishes the legal character of the Executor to implement the Will and to the validity of the Will. For example if a person appointed as the Executor, transfers certain shares of a company to another person as per the Will, then the company whose shares are being transferred can ask for the status of the Executor, since on their record, the owner is another person. In such a case the Probate establishes the Executor’s right to apply for the transfer of the shares since the owner has died and that the Will is valid.

Section 276 in The Indian Succession Act, 1925
276. Petition for probate.—
(1) Application for probate or for letters of administration, with the Will annexed, shall be made by a petition distinctly written in English or in the language in ordinary use in proceedings before the Court in which the application is made, with the Will or, in the cases mentioned in sections 237, 238 and 239, a copy, draft, or statement of the contents thereof, annexed, and stating—

(a) the time of the testator’s death,
(b) that the writing annexed is his last Will and testament,
(c) that it was duly executed,
(d) the amount of assets which are likely to come to the petitioner’s hands, and
(e) when the application is for probate, that the petitioner is the executor named in the Will.
(2) In addition to these particulars, the petition shall further state,—

(a) when the application is to the District Judge, that the deceased at the time of his death had a fixed place of abode, or had some property, situate within the jurisdiction of the Judge; and
(b) when the application is to a District Delegate, that the deceased at the time of his death had a fixed place of abode within the jurisdiction of such Delegate.
(3) Where the application is to the District Judge and any portion of the assets likely to come to the petitioner’s hands is situate in another State, the petition shall further state the amount of such assets in each State and the District Judges within whose jurisdiction such assets are situate.

 

 

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The Indian Succession Act 1925.

To whom administration may be granted, where deceased is a Hindu, Muhammadan, Buddhist, Sikh, Jaina or exempted person.- (1) If the deceased has died intestate and was a Hindu, Muhammadan, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina or an exempted person, administration of his estate may be granted to any person who, according to the rules for the distribution of the estate applicable in the case of such deceased, would be entitled to the whole or any part of such deceased’s estate.

(2) When several such persons apply for such administration, it shall be in the discretion of the Court to grant it to any one or more of them.

(3) When no such person applies, it may be granted to a creditor of the deceased.

Where deceased is not a Hindu, Muhammadan, Buddhist, Sikh, Jaina or exempted person.- If the deceased has died intestate and was not a person belonging to any of the classes referred to in section 218, those who are connected with him, either by marriage or by consanguinity, are entitled to obtain letters of administration of his estate and effects in the order and according to the rules hereinafter stated, namely:–

(a) If the deceased has left a widow, administration shall be granted to the widow, unless the Court sees cause to exclude her, either on the ground of some personal disqualification, or because she has no interest in the estate of the deceased.

Illustrations

(i) The widow is a lunatic or has committed adultery or has been barred by her marriage settlement of all interest in her husband’s estate. There is cause for excluding her from the administration.

(ii) The widow has married again since the decease of her husband. This is not good cause for her exclusion.

(b) If the Judge thinks proper, he may associate any person or persons with the widow in the administration who would be entitled solely to the administration if there were no widow.

(c) If there is no widow, or if the Court sees cause to exclude the widow, it shall commit the administration to the person or persons who would be beneficially entitled to the estate according to the rules for the distribution of an intestate’s estate:

Provided that, when the mother of the deceased is one of the class of persons so entitled, she shall be solely entitled to administration.

(d) Those who stand in equal degree of kindred to the deceased are equally entitled to administration.

(e) The husband surviving his wife has the same right of administration of her estate as the widow has in respect of the estate of her husband.

(f) When there is no person connected with the deceased by marriage or consanguinity who is entitled to letters of administration and willing to act, they may be granted to a creditor.

(g) Where the deceased has left property in India, letters of administration shall be granted according to the foregoing rules, notwithstanding that he had his domicile in a country in which the law relating to testate and intestate succession differs from the law of India.

Probate only to appointed executor.- (1) Probate shall be granted only to an executor appointed by the will.

(2) The appointment may be expressed or by necessary implication.

Illustrations

(i) A wills that C be his executor if B will not. B is appointed executor by implication.

(ii) A gives a legacy to B and several legacies to other persons, among the rest to his daughter-in-law C, and adds “but should the within-named C be not living I do constitute and appoint B my whole and sole executrix”. C is appointed executrix by implication.

(iii) A appoints several persons executors of his will and codicils and his nephew residuary legatee, and in another codicil are these words,–“I appoint my nephew my residuary legatee to discharge all lawful demands against my will and codicils signed of different dates”. The nephew is appointed an executor by implication.

Persons to whom probate cannot be granted.- Probate cannot be granted to any person who is a minor or is of unsound mind nor to any association of individuals unless it is a company which satisfies the conditions prescribed by rules to be made, by notification in the Official Gazette by the State Government in this behalf.

Administration, with copy annexed, of authenticated copy of will proved abroad.- When a will has been proved and deposited in a Court of competent jurisdiction situated beyond the limits of the State, whether within or beyond the limits of India, and a roperly authenticated copy of the will is produced, letters of dministration may be granted with a copy of such copy annexed.

Conclusiveness of application for probate or administration if properly made and verified.- The application for probate or letters of administration, if made and verified in the manner hereinafter provided, shall be conclusive for the purpose of authorising the grant of probate or administration; and no such grant shall be impeached by reason only that the testator or intestate had no fixed place of abode or no property within the district at the time of his death, unless by a proceeding to revoke the grant if obtained by a fraud upon the Court.

Petition for probate.- (1) Application for probate or for letters of administration, with the will annexed, shall be made by a petition distinctly written in English or in the language in ordinary use in proceedings before the Court in which the application is made, with the will or, in the cases mentioned in sections 237, 238 and 239, a copy, draft, or statement of the contents thereof, annexed, and stating–

(a) the time of the testator’s death.

(b) that the writing annexed is his last will and testament,

(c) that it was duly executed,

(d) the amount of assets which are likely to come to the petitioner’s hands, and

(e) when the application is for probate, that the petitioner is the executor named in the will.

(2) In addition to these particulars, the petition shall further state,–

(a) when the application is to the District Judge, that the deceased at the time of his death had a fixed place of abode, or had some property, situate within the jurisdiction of the Judge; and

(b) when the application is to a District Delegate, that the deceased at the time of his death had a fixed place of abode within the jurisdiction of such Delegate.

(3) Where the application is to the District Judge and any portion of the assets likely to come to the petitioner’s hands is situate in another State, the petition shall further state the amount of such assets in each State and the District Judges within whose jurisdiction such assets are situate.

Petition for letters of administration.- (1) Application for letters of administration shall be made by petition distinctly written as aforesaid and stating–

(a) the time and place of the destator’s death;

(b) the family or other relatives of the deceased, and their respective residences;

(c) the right in which the petitioner claims;

(d) the amount of assets which are likely to come to the petitioner’s hands;

(e) when the application is to the District Judge, that the deceased at the time of his death had a fixed place of abode, or had some property, situate within the jurisdiction of the Judge; and

(f) when the application is to a District Delegate, that the deceased at the time of his death had a fixed place of abode within the jurisdiction of such Delegate.

(2) Where the application is to the District Judge and any portion of the assets likely to come to the petitioner’s hands is situate in another State, the petition shall further state the amount of such assets in each State and the District Judges within whose jurisdiction such assets are situate.