You want to safeguard the interests of your beneficiaries with a will. As an NRI, when you are making a will, you will have many queries. Some of them may be as follows:
- Should it be natural succession or will?
- Should there be one or multiple wills?
- Should there be multiple executors?
- Which country’s law is applicable to the property/assets covered under the will?
Here are the answers to your questions.
Natural Succession or Will
Property can attract bogus claims and speculations. The best advice is to will your property to your heirs or other persons of your choice. You should have a written will with signatures of witnesses, one of them preferably a doctor. Have it registered to avoid any complications later on.
For an NRI, there are separate succession laws based on your religion – Hindu, Muslim, or Christian.
The Hindu Succession Act applies to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists. Matters related to immovable property in India are governed by the rules defined in this act.
The immovable properties in foreign countries fall under the respective jurisdiction laws of the country where you have the property. The succession of all movable property situated in a foreign land will follow laws of that country.
One or Multiple Wills
You may want to make a separate will for each country where you own a property. That is not always necessary. One will that lists all of the individual properties, along with the place and country of each, will suffice as well. It is easier to prove genuineness of a single composite will as compared to multiple wills.
Remember, if your country of residence is UAE, you have to make and register a separate will for any property owned there.
Make sure you are aware of the laws of the countries in which you own the property. Also, have your will registered in the jurisdiction where you own the property. Registrations in the jurisdiction of the owned property will reduce litigation issues.
You may also choose to have one will for property in a foreign land and a separate will for property in India. This may reduce inheritance tax in the country of residence. That is because Indian laws do not have estate duty or inheritance tax.
It is important to appoint an executor for your will. Select someone you trust and who is younger than you. They should reside locally. Or, appoint a trustworthy and reputable expert for the process. Along with executors, they can act as trustees and power-of-attorney agents.
There should be a separate executor for each of the wills that you make.
Laws Related to Will
Before you prepare and register a will in the country of your residence, know the local laws. Seek the advice of experts to follow the laws relevant to the jurisdiction under which you own the property.
A duly written, signed, witnessed, and registered will can withstand almost any legal issues. As an NRI, follow these steps as necessary:
- Write down the will.
- Have two witnesses to sign.
- Choose an appropriate executor.
- Have attestation from Notary Public.
- Get an Apostille stamp from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
- Get the Consular stamp from Indian High Commission.
Remember, having a nominee for the property does not ensure inheritance. A will holds more legal power than a nomination. Taking these steps as early as possible will ensure a hassle-free division of assets.
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