Introduction to the legal aspects

Wars over wealth/ancestral property have been present forever whether it is low-income households or ultra-rich families. Therefore property disputes are frequent in India. The most normal solution to such conflicts is to drag the matter to courts instead of opting for a simple family settlement. People rarely realise that court cases are a tedious and expensive process and satisfactory resolutions courts rarely guarantee a satisfactory resolution. Therefore it is advisable to always opt for a family settlement on the property.

What is a family settlement?

  • It refers to the adjustment that family members make in order avoid court disputes and amicably divide the family property with shared understanding.
  • The parties must be related to each other and have a right to a share of the said property.
  • The latter is not just limited to real estate, but can also claim his/her right on the movable assets like jewellery or money in bank accounts.

What does partition through family settlement connote?

  • A family settlement agreement is made in the same format of a partition deed.
  • It does not need registration and stamping.
  • It must be signed by all the members of the family voluntarily, without any fraud, coercion or pressure from any family member.
  • It does not necessarily have to be drafted in a written document.
  • It can be executed either by a compromise or by a mutual understanding between the family members.

Why is family settlement better than court settlement?

  • It is better because one can avoid protracted, public and messy court battles.
  • It is also quicker and a more harmonious way to resolve disputes.

What is the Procedure?

  • A family settlement is a peaceful process where a third person, mostly a lawyer or an older family member, helps the family arrive at a jointly peaceful solution to the property dispute.
  • A family settlement can also be a series of documents spelling out the property rights of each of the family members.

What about self-acquired property?

  • A person cannot execute self-acquired property during the lifetime of a person who had acquired it.
  • However, the self-acquired property automatically becomes a part of the ancestral estate on the death of such person. Hence the person can distribute the self-acquired property through his/ her will to any person he wants.

These are the basics of issues related to Family Settlement for Property Disputes – more about this in another article in the coming days.