Succession planning has always been a matter of concern in every Indian family irrespective of religion. Improper or absence of succession planning has been one of the major causes for family disputes in India. In many cases, it is the mothers, daughters and sisters who are deprived of their right to inheritance. Thus it is important that the right and deserving gets his/her dues.
Today, women at large are becoming economically independent. Since a woman plays multiple roles, it is the families and the community at large who are more likely to avail the benefits of their financial gains. Thus succession planning is important for every woman.
The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 which governs the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists in India states that the wife (or widow of deceased), mother and daughter inherit equally with other members. A daughter has a right in father’s HUF and husband’s HUF. However, in case of a deceased female Hindu, it is the sons, daughters and husband and the heirs of the husband who benefit. Her father and mother will benefit only if there are no heirs from husband’s side. Thus a woman may want to plan a different pattern of succession of her assets which benefits her needy parents or siblings.
The Indian Succession Act, 1925 govern the Christians, Jews and Parsis while The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 governs the Muslims. The Special Marriage Act, 1954 governs inter-faith marriages.
As per law, a Muslim female can Will only 1/3rd property to her relative whereas a Muslim male inherits 2/3rd share from his father’s property as compared to his female sibling. Among Christians, all successors of the female will benefit equally from her self-acquired property.
Thus, irrespective of the religion, through a proper succession planning, a woman can ensure that her family and loved ones rightfully benefit from her hard-earned assets in the future. A proper planning by way of a will or a trust can ensure that they do not fall under the legal heirs’ bracket under the personal laws. A right tool can ensure protection of her assets for herself and security for her legal heirs in the long run and also eliminate future problems.
By: Hetvi Sheth