practical tax & investment planning online
international tax expert / colunmist / author / speaker


Managing your wealth requires more skill than creating it!
On this first working day of 2012, this is wishing all AM readers a very happy & prosperous New Year with some food for thought to make smart fiscal resolutions for the New Year! Always remember that “managing your wealth requires more skill than creating it.”


The importance of executing a Will has yet not been appreciated to its fullest extent in the Indian society. It is, therefore, not surprising to come across several cases where in pursuance to the death of an individual, there are several family disputes and practical problems in the absence of the Will by the deceased. Don’t forget that the execution of a Will is very simple and at the same time non-execution of the same can create several difficulties.

Where the deceased individual has not executed a Will outlining the actual distribution of his properties amongst the legal heirs, this can give rise to complications. Moreover, where the legal heirs become entitled to various immovable and movable properties, in the absence of a Will, passing of a legal title to them also becomes difficult, since such legal heirs would have to obtain a succession certificate from the Civil Court, the procedure for which is both time consuming and expensive.


Many times an immovable property is purchased only in single name, since that person alone has invested the funds in acquisition of the property. Where such investment has been made in the single name of the head of the household, what should be done to facilitate the smooth passing over of the property to his wife or his son or daughter?

Wherever practicable, the registration of an immovable property should be executed in joint names to facilitate smooth passing over in future. It is, however, not necessary that the second name holder should contribute any funds for having his or her name entered jointly. In such a case, the first name holder, who invests in the acquisition of the property, remains its real owner.

Where the property held in single name is under a cooperative society or an association, the owner of the property can conveniently file a letter of nomination with the society or association declaring that upon his death the same may be transferred in the name of his nominee.

Where joint holding or nomination is not feasible and the property has to remain in the single name of its owner, his Will must contain clear directions in whose favour the property is bequeathed, in absence of which the smooth passing over of property after his death can become not only cumbersome, but also time consuming and expensive.


    With  a  view to ensure that your legal heirs  have  no problem  in  receiving the various properties allocated  to  them, whether immovable or movable, listed hereunder are some  important practical  steps, you should take in  regard to your investments:

  • To  facilitate  the  smooth operation  and  passing  over  of investments, it must be ensured that all bank accounts, fixed deposits, shares, securities, bonds, debentures, etc. held by an  investor  are not held in his/her single name,  but  held jointly  with any close member of his family.  Even  where  a Will  has been executed, but if the property is in the single name  of  the  deceased, it becomes  necessary  to  obtain  a Probate  from a Civil Court, the procedure for which  is  not only expensive but also time consuming.   

  • In respect of such investments like Life Insurance  Policies, PPF accounts, etc. which do not have the facility  of  joint holding,   it  is  important  that  an  individual  makes a ‘nomination’ in favour of any close member of his family.

  • Both  in  regard to maintaining a joint holding, as well as making  a  nomination, it should be borne in  mind  that  the joint holder or the nominee does not automatically become the legal owner of the property of the deceased. The joint holder would enjoy the privilege of withdrawing the investment and the nominee would be entitled to receive the proceeds of the investment. However, both the joint holder or the nominee, if not directed to legally receive the property as a beneficiary under the Will, would be accountable to the executors of  the estate  of  the deceased, to hand over the  proceeds  of  the investment,   which  would  ultimately  be  required  to   be allocated in accordance with the terms of the Will.

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