Succession planning a must for women

Succession planning is a must for every woman. She can follow any religion and still have concerns on who gets what out of her assets. Making a Will is a practical stand that ensures her loved one get their share of her estate the way she likes it. How does one make sure that the right and deserving heir gets his/ her due and when? A woman portrays multiple roles, but the most important role considered by her is as a mother. With Woman’s Day campaigning, this article addresses the rights of women of all religion.

  • Regardless of how well her marriage is going, there are some things every woman should do now to protect herself in the event of divorce:
  1. Make a list of the assets you and your husband own together and separately.
  2. On this list, she has to make distinctions between assets she brought into the marriage or acquired separately during the marriage and those she and her husband acquired together. Separate assets might include various pre-marital savings or investment accounts, and inheritances.
  3. If woman inherits money during her marriage, then it needs to be in a separate account in her name instead of mixing it with marital assets (accountants call this “comingling”). As inheritances are considered woman’s rights, they tend to not be regarded by courts as marital property subject to division.

If a woman gets divorced, she’ll be glad she took these steps. If woman stays married, doing then it helps towards better grip on your family financial situation, a step towards ultimate financial empowerment. By improving her grasp of financial matters, she can lessen her vulnerability, engendering greater trust, communication and increasing the potential to reach shared goals.

What does the law say?

In India, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are governed by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, while Christians, Jews and Parsis are governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925, and Muslims are covered under The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937. Laws of succession in case of inter-faith marriages are governed under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

Under the Hindu law, the wife, mother and daughter of a deceased Hindu male dying intestate (without will), inherit equally with other male members. The widow of the deceased is entitled to inherit equally with sons and daughters. A daughter is entitled to a share in the father’s Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), as well as a share in the husband’s HUF.

However, the self-acquired property of a deceased female Hindu dying intestate shall be benefitted first by sons (1 share each), daughters (1 share each), husband (1 share), son and daughter of predeceased son (equally together 1 share), son and daughter of predeceased daughter (equally together 1 share). In the absence of husband and children, it will go to the heirs of husband and only if there are no heirs from the husband’s side will her father and mother receive anything, whereas inherited property will have its own mode of distribution.

A woman may want to plan differently for her nominees and the above distribution may not suit her. This is why a woman whether a mother, sister or daughter, needs to plan her succession carefully by using the right tools if she wants her parents or a needy sister to benefit from her assets after she is no longer there to look after them.

It is recommended that all women, from any religion, do succession planning for their family and also for relatives who would otherwise not fall under the legal heirs’ bracket under the personal laws and would be left out of the assets.

Women are more likely to share their economic gains with their families and a community at large is known. Taking a proactive approach and planning succession can prevent problems in the future and can avoid impacting her hard earned assets. By choosing the right tool, she can achieve asset protection for herself and succession planning for her legal heirs.

Similarly, a Muslim male inherits twice the share of his female sibling from his father’s property. A Muslim can Will only 1/3rd property, which can be bequeathed to her needy relative.

So by making an independent Will a woman can assure a higher proportion to the relative be it your mother, daughter or sister.

Among Christians, all property owned by an individual, no matter the mode of acquisition, is treated as her self-acquired property and will devolve on her successors equally.

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