Before being able to access any of the assets/funds of the departed individual, one may need to figure out the following:
If the assets have been jointly held by the individual, one has to understand the type of the asset held and the rules pertaining to the same. The remaining joint holders may need to check the mode of holding -either or survivor, former or survivor etc. Upon submission of valid proof of death, the bank/MF /investment company/ post office may transfer the amount to the joint holder.
It is important to check if the person has made nominations for all his/her assets like savings account, demat account, MFs, insurance policies, FDs, etc. Each instrument may have a different nomination and the funds can be accessed only by the nominees in the proportion mentioned.
Checking for a will
One needs to also check if the person has left a valid will which lists down the distribution of the person’s wealth in accordance with their wish. To be able to exercise the will, the beneficiaries and the executor need to make an application to the court to obtain probate—which authenticates the genuineness of the will.
Point to note
- The nominee holds the funds as a trustee until the final beneficiary/legal heir has been identified.
- If the person has not left a will, a succession certificate will be required to be obtained from the court by the legal heirs.
- A probate is not required in case of immovable properties of Hindus except if the property was located in West Bengal, Chennai and Mumbai.
(Content on this page is courtesy Centre for Investment Education and Learning (CIEL). Contributions by Girija Gadre, Arti Bhargava and Labdhi Mehta.)