There will be a lot of moving parts right after a death and although there are a few items which must be dealt with immediately, the rest can be tabled for a time to give the widows time to get organized and able to emotionally handle the next steps. Go slow, but be diligent & methodical. Many widows get in too much of a hurry to make everything alright, to get back to a “normal” that feels better”.
On an average, almost all the families are very weak in their estate planning. They are so much engrossed into their “current” life, that they are not bothered about future much. Most important task is submitting nomination for all assets and preparing the Will. Beneficiaries have to be same in Nomination & Will.
Essential Documents (Check List):
Death certificates: When someone dies, the death has to be registered with the local authorities (Municipal Corporations etc.), and obtain 2 dozen copies (preferably originals). This is different from the one that the hospital gives and hence the certificate given by Government Authority is final.
Remember to pay Bills, like Gas, Electricity, telephone, Society, Property Taxes, and Credit Card etc.
Organise your Cash flow for next 3 to 6 months. Identify your Income & other receipts and your expenses and spending.
Primary Documents of Deceased Husband & Widow:
Aadhar Cards, PAN Cards (Husband, Widow, HUF), Will (Don`t share this with everyone unless required), Share Certificate of Society, Nomination Copy, List of Assets (Properties, Shares, MF, Banks, Post, Loans etc.), Email access (along with password), Mobile (with pass code)
Property Papers & Documents showing clear title to the property, in whose names, share certificate, Property Agreements (along with all trailing agreements), 7/12 extract of Land, Mortgage Papers (identify pending EMIs, Whether Insurance policies taken for mortgage property)
Documents and information needed:
Get your financial documents organised: Bank accounts, Bank FDs, Postal Investments (PPF, SCSC, NSC,MIP,SB etc.), Mutual Fund Investments, D`mat & brokerage Accounts, Bonds, Debentures, EPF (Employee Provident Fund), Retirement plans (Government, Employers, Family Pensions from PF, Retirement Insurance Products), Life Insurance policies (Accident, Endowment, Term), Loans (Given & Taken separately), Credit card statements and Mortgages.
Details required are names (whether Single or Joint), signatories (Either or Survivor?), Nominations submitted for each of these, amount, market value etc. Ensure that there is Nominations in each of these Investments and based on that inform them with covering letter attaching death certificate so as to ensure that amount is transferred to spouse (or as per Nomination). In case of Joint Account, the name of the deceased will be removed and it may be advisable to include name/s of children as joint holder or file nomination for them after the amount is transferred. Close or transfer accounts which are not needed.
Bank Account/FDs: Sole Account without Nomination
RBI has permitted banks to fix a minimum account balance threshold (ranging Rs.1-3 lakhs for all dues from a bank) up to which claims can be settled through a simple mechanism, without insisting on probate/succession certificate other than a letter of indemnity.
Bank lockers: Approach bank for deletion of name and nominee becomes joint holder with 2nd holder. If Locker is in Single name without Nomination, bank would guide you for documentation.
Inform your spouse’s employer, Pension Authorities and life insurer along with Covering letter & death certificate. File for any benefits receivable by you such as pension upon death of spouse, you may be required to take a lump-sum distribution or amounts spread over longer duration. Suggest choose period based on expected life span based on your health, your requirements, as insurance companies gives options of coverage of pension for life (100 years) which results in lower pension. As against that if one were to choose pension for 10/15 years certain then amount of pension would be comparatively high.
Insurance Policies: Each company has a different protocol. But the death certificate and nomination is critical. Submit Claim form along with Widow`s Bank`s cheques leave for bank account details.
Partner in a Firm: Upon death of the deceased, for widow to become partner is as per terms of partnership deed and comfort of other partners. However, widow has right to recover amount standing to the credit of deceased husband`s partnership account (along with interest @ 12%) as on date of death including share of net profit up to that date.
Loans Given: Inform to all those people to whom Loans have been given to repay the loans to the widow.
Vehicle transfer: You will have to transfer the ownership of the vehicle by making an application to the RTO along with the required documents such as Death Certificate, Widow`s Id & Address proof..
Utilities: If the gas, telephone, Electricity etc., were in the deceased husband’s name, get the name changed by producing the death certificate, identity proofs, and declaration by legal heirs and NOC by other heirs, in specified forms from these Utilities.
Taxation: Take last 3 years Tax Returns for Husband, wife & HUF and confirm these are filed and no pending liabilities. Wife will have to file Income Tax Return for current year as legal representative from 1 April till the date of death and pay tax if required. Normally income Tax Returns is required to be filed in July. For filing Returns you should have access to Password given on IT Website, Email & Cell Number registered with IT Department as you would receive OTP on that for Tax Filing. Surrender PAN Card after 1 year by writing a letter and attaching Death Certificate.
Hindu Undivided Family (HUF): If your husband has created HUF you need to understand basics of HUF.HUF is a separate entity under tax. After Karta`s (Husband) death, it continues with at least 2 remaining members. Eldest Son becomes Karta (Manager) of Father`s HUF. If no son, then Daughter becomes Karta. You can also opt for Complete Partition of HUF and distribute all assets amongst members.
Transfer of Property:
Any property where deceased husband name appears as owner is required to be transferred to Widow or children as per Nomination & Will. Submit the request in given form along with death certificate and nomination. Society would process the request as per provisions of MCS Act & Bye Laws. Bye Law of the Society will contain all forms, Indemnity Bond, NOC, Application Form, etc. After the name is transferred in Widow’s name, submit fresh Nomination. You don`t need to submit copy of Will to Society unless specifically asked by Society to confirm that beneficiary is same in Nomination & Will.
If no Nomination is made, still approach Society and inform them about death so that the billing of monthly maintenance shifts to Widow`s name. However the Society would not transfer the Share Certificate in Widow`s name without Court issued Probate or Succession Certificate.
Probate of Will or succession certificate if there’s no will
Try and locate the Will, if there is one. The importance of having a Will cannot be over-emphasised because of the ease it offers in sorting financial and property matters after the death of a husband. It clearly defines how all assets are to be distributed, to whom, by whom, and minimises disputes within the family. In most cases wife is nominated by husband to receive all his assets and properties after his death. A Will ensures smooth transfer of assets. If the deceased has left behind a will, the executor (appointed in the Will) needs to provide probate, a document issued by the court authenticating that the will is genuine.
If the person dies without a will, his legal heirs need to get a succession certificate from the court. Then provisions of Hindu Succession Act, 1956 applies. Hindu includes Jains & Sikhs. Claim of Estate of deceased can be made by any of the Class 1 relatives. Separate laws for other religions.
Class 1 Relative as per Succession Act
Son, Daughter, Widow, Mother, Son of a predeceased son, Daughter of predeceased son, Widow of predeceased son, Son of a predeceased daughter, Daughter of predeceased daughter, Son of predeceased son of predeceased son, Daughter of predeceased son of a predeceased son, Widow of predeceased son of a predeceased son.
You need to approach Lawyer for obtaining Probate or Succession Certificate from Court.
This provision applies only in the jurisdiction of High Courts of Bombay, Madras & Calcutta. If the Property is situated in any other places then the process is much simpler and one has to approach local Authority and submit required documents like Death Certificate, Affidavit, Release deed from Class 1 heirs in favour of designated heir (widow).
Inform them for removal of name: Ration Card, Voter List, Aadhar Card, and PAN (1 year after filing last IT Return). You may like to inform to cancel Passport which in any case has expiry date.
After everything is done, prepare your Finance Plan of your needs for rest of your life and make Will & Nominations.
For any clarity, please contact your CA, Lawyer. However practical advice would be given by respective Banks, Insurance Companies, Pension Authorities as regards necessary documents, affidavits etc.