What is the legal procedure to contest a will’s validity in court?

My uncle made a will before his death and left all his immovable property, bank accounts and shares to a charity that takes care of disabled and abandoned children. In the absence of this decision, his son, who is my cousin, and my aunt are trying to find out if they can oppose the will. They claim that before his death my uncle talked about transferring some assets to his son.

— Name withheld on request

We assume that the deceased, your uncle, was a Hindu, and that his wife and son survived. However, in your Uncle’s will, we understand that he bequeathed all his estate/property to the charities and therefore did not make any bequests to your uncle’s legitimate heirs.

You may note that there is no embargo or restriction under the Hindu Succession Act to bequeath the entire estate for charitable purposes.

Therefore, unless and until the son and spouse can prove before the court that the will was made by fraud or coercion, the court cannot ignore the disposition/bequest made under the will .

A man I know made a will before his death and left all his property to his first son, and nothing to the second son or his only daughter. His daughter thinks the will has been tampered with and wants to know the legal procedure to contest the will.

— Name withheld on request

Any sane adult can validly make a will. Testamentary or disposing capacity must be proved to the satisfaction of the court. In addition, the will must be made of the will of the testator, absent fraud, coercion, undue influence or other factors that remove the free agency of the testator.

There is no form, but at least two witnesses must attest to its execution under the direction of the testator; each witness must attest to the will in the presence of the testator, although both need not be present at the same time. Proving a will means proving it in its solemn form. Such proof can only be established by meeting all these requirements and providing evidence to prove it.

Therefore, unless and until the daughter can prove before the court that the will of the Deceased was executed by fraud or by coercion or by undue influence that took away the free will of the testator, the bequest made under the will cannot declared as unnatural or invalid by. the Court.

Aradhana Bhansali is a partner, Rajani Associates.

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Updated: 14 November 2023, 10:22 PM IST

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