As we look into the records of challenging will. Almost 90% of wills in India pass without being challenging before the court of law as the person who creates a testate is no more to registered his presence before the court and witness the happening events or to defend himself. A will is a document in writing created or codified by the testator in which he show his intentions of devolving his property, assets, cash to the person he wants. A person is free to make a will of his choice of the property he acquired by himself or the property he inherited from his parent (his share). As per Indian law every legal document in respect of property is necessary to be registered under the Indian Registration Act, 1908 but registration of will is optional, it’s upon the wish of the testator whether to register it or not.
A will can be registered under section 18(e) of the Registration Act as it is optional whether to register it or not but it is advised to the testator to register as it is easy to clear the doubts relating to ingenuity in the particulars plus registering or not registering does not make it unchallengeable before the court of law. A will can be changed or altered any time within the life span of the testator and it can be taken into account that a registered will does not given any special privilege and it cannot be assumed that it holds legal authenticity. A new will which is unregistered always supersede over a registered will, the last will holds the validity and legal authenticity and same can be executed.
Grounds for challenging a registered will
A will being unregistered does not waive the right of enforcing it before the court. If the will is found in any kind of suspicion, then the same can be challenged before the court, it can be challenged on the following grounds
- Undue influence: Undue influence is a situation where a person is compelled to do certain act against her will without her free consent. According to Indian law when certain act was committed without the free consent of the person making it shall be challenged before the court. Similarly, if a will was create under any fear of influence of other person the same shall be void and not recognized by the court and can be challenged.
- Fraud and Forgery: If a person is deceived for making a will due to any circumstance where he was not consented or willing, the same can be challenged before the court on the ground of fraud. When any person being a friend, family member or relative with mala fide intention alters the particulars of will or make a fake or fabricated signature of the testator, falls under the category of forging the will, the person aggrieved can challenge the will on the ground of forgery.
- Coercion: Coercion is the act of using of force and intimidation to obtain some benefit, here making of will when someone persuades a person under some fear or threat. The validity and authenticity can be challenged before the court. The court can nullify the will presented before the court.
- Lack of proper execution: For the completion of the will it is required that the document contains the signature of the testator and the two witnesses to attest the same by signing. If either of the requirements is not mot fulfilled the will become invalid.
- Lack of testamentary capacity and intention: Testamentary capacity here means that the person making has the knowledge and understanding that what he is up to. In simple words he must be mentally fit to execute such document. Sometime the testator is not in such intention to execute a will. A will must show the last desire of the person making a will and his intention to pass over his property as per his wishes if it lacks then the same can be challenged.
- Suspicious Nature: A will can be challenged on the ground of falling under the suspicious nature which means missing or altering in certain particulars that can be, many thumb impression which creates confusion and doubt in the mind or transfer to anonymous person and so on.
- Revocation: A testator during his life span can revoke the will he made, if he feels that will he made was not up to his desires and directions. Revocation of a will makes it invalid.
While challenging a will, the person must have the valid or strong ground which means it has to be proved that there must some ingredients of fraud, forgery, undue influence and other challenging grounds are present if he fails to prove he might suffer a big loss. It is quite difficult to prove that a fraud has been made with testator but if the fraud is proved then the testate will be declared invalid. An invalid testate has no effect but if the testator had last/ previous then it will follow and the property will fall under the clauses mentioned under the previous will. In case, if there is no previous will then the rule of succession follow as per the Indian Succession Act, 1925.