Adopted child alone gets property if adoption deed provides for it

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I have a family settlement deed signed by 10 legal heirs in June 1999 on notarized white Concord paper, unregistered with the registrar. Since then, each signatory has been enjoying his/her share without any legal dispute. Now, we would like to register the family settlement deed with the sub-registrar of assurances in Tamil Nadu. But one signatory is unwilling to cooperate with the registration. Under the circumstances, is it possible for us to go ahead with the registration without the consent of this unwilling signatory? If, yes, what will be its impact?

—Name withheld on request

It is possible to do the registration of the document without the non-signatory’s consent. However, it becomes an inchoate document in the eyes of law. For all practical purposes, one should inform the non-signatory in writing that the family settlement deed has been executed and implemented during the past decade, but the parties to the family settlement deed are now desirous of registering the document. Before initiating the process of registration, it is advisable to understand the provisions of the state laws, stamp duty, penalties, etc.

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My father died a year ago and has left behind four properties. Since he hasn’t left any Will, we (my mother, sister and I) have agreed among ourselves that I [son] get two of the properties, and my mother and sister each get one. In this context, I would like to know the following: As we are a Hindu family, should the property be shared equally? If yes, would it be best that my sister and I give my mother a relinquishment deed for all four properties, and then she, in turn, assigns these back to us a gift deed, or do we make a partition deed, outlining who gets which property? Please advise a solution that costs the lowest in terms of lawyer and government fees.

—Name withheld on request

As your father has died intestate, i.e. without leaving behind a Will, his properties will devolve equally upon his heirs—wife, daughter and son—as per the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Further, in respect of your desire to retain two properties and your mother and sister having one property each, you sister and your mother can execute a relinquishment deed/release deed in respect of their interest in the properties, which shall remain with you. Similarly, you can execute a release deed in respect of your interest in the properties that shall vest upon your mother and sister.

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Executing a release deed will be a good option in relation to the division of property compared with a partition deed, which may entail adjudication for payment of stamp duty by the competent authority. Depending on the state laws where the properties are located, the stamp duty will be levied, and all documents are to be registered with the office of the sub-registrar of assurances having appropriate jurisdiction.

I have two daughters and a son we adopted from my younger brother when he was six months old. In the process, an adoption deed was made and signed by my wife and I, and my brother and his wife. It is mentioned in the deed that my adopted son will be the successor of all our properties after our death. However, my wife and I wish to distribute assets in equal proportion to all the three children through a Will. All my children are married and have very cordial relationship among them. Kindly advise whether a Will made as above will be legal and shall overrule the adoption deed.

—Name withheld on request

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First, it is important to know if the adoption deed has been executed under the provisions of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. If the answer is yes, it must be known whether the deed has been executed under the aegis of a competent court. Section 13 of the above-mentioned Act has a provision which states that properties should absolutely be transferred to the adopted son if the adoption deed provides the same. If that is the case, the recording/agreement in the adoption deed will hold the field.

Aradhana Bhansali is partner, Rajani Associates.

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