Property disputes among family are common in India. A family dispute is an extremely draining process and becomes a battlefield for drama and throat cut argument unless it is settled amicably among the family members or with expert legal advice from property dispute lawyer. Family members are often battling each other on issues related to the inheritance of property or marital related property conflicts.
In usual cases, there are great chances for most squabbling relatives/spouses to take the matter to the courts due to rising bitterness amongst each other instead of resolving it amongst themselves. However, it is a known fact that litigation is a highly time-consuming, tedious and relatively expensive process, which may not guarantee a quick satisfactory resolution.
Property dispute lawyers or family lawyers are swamped in their respective domains with family property disputes. They are often asked how to avoid conflicting circumstances that arise amongst family members. It is common to say that prevention is better than cure; thus, sometimes, one can prevent property disputes within a family without heading to Courts. However, this may require a bit of planning and foresight. Therefore, we are sharing suggestions on how to avoid family property disputes. Here are a few tips or suggestions which are essential to prevent any family dispute:
- A property dispute lawyer guides NRIs to take adequate steps to guard and manage their properties in India.
- Safeguard your property and avoid conflicts with trespassers, greedy relatives and friends by taking guidance from property lawyers.
- Consult a legal expert to make and execute a fully compliant Will which is difficult to challenge.
- For drafting a lawfully acceptable family settlement/agreement, tenancy agreement, detailed POA or any other legal agreement NRIs should seek help from a property lawyer.
- A property dispute lawyer can be of help in getting the property documents checked and verified so that NRI’s property can be protected.
Proper documentation in consultation with property dispute lawyer
We must ensure that any document involving transfer, alienation, lease agreement, etc., is documented carefully and adequately while obtaining legal advice from a property dispute lawyer at the initial stage concerning the property. The documents must be clear, specific, and understandable.
Special Power of Attorney
Being a resident abroad may create a situation where NRIs must give Power of attorney to trustworthy relatives/ friends. However, whenever required to do so, one should make a detailed power of attorney with assistance from legal professionals. A Special Power of Attorney is advisable instead of a general power of attorney unless necessary because it involves the great potential for misuse. In many cases, trust is reposed in family members and close friends; however, an undue advantage of the same has been taken and illegally, the property has been transferred to self or third parties without the property owner’s consent. This is done based on the Power of attorney, which was taken to look after the property and end up leading to a land/ property dispute.
Recommended reading: Power of Attorney | Risks and concerns for NRIs
Making a will carefully and with all compliances
The executor should carefully make the Will and ensure that it clearly states the beneficiary’s rights. One should ensure that it is signed by proper witnesses and registered with the concerned authority. Choosing the executor of the Will shall also be an essential consideration. Often conflict arises amongst kith and kin that person who is executing is biased. Thus, essentially a person who would be unbiased or neutral with high integrity should be made executor of the Will.
Make a family settlement
The most recommended tip of all is to make a family settlement. One can do this by writing an oral agreement between the family members who are entitled to share post the person’s demise from whom they commonly inherit such share. A family settlement means a mutual agreement among the family members, widely made to prevent getting involved in court battles by dividing the joint/family property through mutual understanding among the family members. However, for the proper execution of a family settlement agreement, consent of all is imperative. Thus, it requires signatures of all the family members voluntarily in good faith and without any fraud, coercion or undue pressure from anyone. It is not mandatory to register the family settlement agreement, but it is recommended that it should be registered.
Carefully Select a Co-owner when making joint purchases
Purchasing property jointly with relatives is common, and the reason for such investments are usually because of a tax rebate, e.g., less tax for female buyers. However, people must proceed with extreme caution while deciding to buy or own property jointly with any family member, especially for NRIs, because mostly they stay abroad and possession remains with the other co-owner who generally takes care of the share of the property on his behalf.
Recommended reading: Transfer Deed and its relevancy for NRI
Caretaker and tenancy agreement
Being an owner of a house, when it is decided to give the house to a relative or a friend only for caretaking purposes, the owner must enter into a properly drafted caretaker’s agreement, preferably with the help of a property dispute lawyer. This helps keep the status of the caretaker clear and secure one’s right so that he cannot take undue advantage of your absence at any stage. In the case of a tenancy, a detailed rent agreement should be made, and rent should be collected in a bank. One should remain proactive, visit the property as much as possible and also stay vigilant about the same.
Thus, while dealing with immovable property and inheritance arrangements, which may lead to dispute amongst family members, one must plan for all eventualities, whether it is framing a Will or making an investment with another family member. One must engage a property dispute lawyer to get proper advice that can help them avoid such conflicts.