Parents devote their lifetime to provide a secure future for their children but have you ever thought about what will happen after your demise? How to safeguard your legacy and make sure it lies in the right hands especially until they become adults legally? You should make sure that your children's inheritance is protected. Lets understand the inheritance rights of children and how a Will is crucial for protecting their rights.
From a Legal point of view, children can be classified into:
- Children of divorced parents,
- Adopted children
- Illegitimate children
- Children born to live-in couples
- Minor children
Children of divorced parents
It becomes crucial to understand that Hindu Succession Act, 1956 does not consider stepchildren in the category of ‘son’ or ‘daughter’. Hence in the cases where divorced couples choose to remarry, step children are deprived of any right over their step parent’s property if the latter dies intestate. So, if a step-parent wishes to leave his property for his stepchild(ren), the only way to do so is through a Will.
As per the legal provision after adoption, the adopted child loses any right to property of their biological parents.Howver, the child enjoys the same right as that of the biological child of adopted parents. So in cases where the biological parents wish to give their property to their child, the only way by which they could do so is through a Will.
According to Section 16 (3) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, illegitimate children can only exercise his/her right over his/her parents’ self-acquired property and have no share in ancestral property. So if you want to give ancestral property to the children a Will is a must because it can be done only through a Will.
Live-in couple’s children
Marriage is both a legal and social contract. Lets understand the inheritance rights of children whose parents have not entered into this contract. Till now there is no clear legal provision in any personal law that gives any right to children born out of live-in relationships. In 2015 an issue related to the recognition of the relationship of live-in couples arose in front of the Supreme Court wherein the court stated that couples who have been in a live-in relationship for a long time can be considered married. Hence, their children will enjoy the same rights as a legal heir and can claim the inheritance of their parents’ self-acquired property under Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. However, this has not yet been corporated in the laws, hence a safe way to ensure the inheritance rights of these children is to do so by making a Will.
A Will becomes very crucial in the case of minor children. Although minor kids are the legal heirs, they have no legal authority over it till they become 18 years old. That is, they are the owner of the property but cannot exercise any control over it. The property, till they attain the age of majority, is ‘managed’ by a legal guardian appointed by the court. In cases where the parents have written a Will, a guardian of their choice is appointed.
In all of the above scenarios, the one most crucial point is the importance of making a Will. If you have children, especially those who are minors, make sure to write a Will for ensuring their future and making sure that their present is in the right hands.
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