The Private Client team at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas shares their comments and opinions in an article in the  following Q&A which was published by the Mint Newspaper on 18th January, 2022 and the online edition of the same can be found here.

My father-in-law died of covid on 6 September 2020 and my mother-in-law died on 13 December 2020. My wife is their only daughter. I need some clarity on the following:

a. My father-in-law had some HUF (Hindu Undivided Family) bank accounts and mutual funds. How do my wife or I run the accounts or withdraw the money.

b. My father-in-law has some shares and bank accounts in which his brother or sister-in-law are the nominees. How do I claim those from them?

– Kapil R. Tulsan

We understand that your wife is the only surviving daughter. We have assumed that she is the only child. Therefore, after the demise of both her parents, the HUF share would vest in your wife, as the sole surviving legal heir of her parents.

Do note that your wife is a coparcener at birth in her father’s HUF, and hence has an undivided share in the HUF from birth itself. This is distinct and separate from her father’s HUF interest.

We have assumed that your father-in-law did not execute a Will. Therefore, the rules of intestate succession would be applicable. In this case, you will be required to obtain letters of administration from a competent court. Upon receipt of such letters of administration, you will be required to submit a certified true copy of the letters of administration to your bank along with other KYC documentation.

Alternatively, you may also consider obtaining a succession certificate from a district court having jurisdiction. Usually, such succession certificate is a primary document through which the heirs can stake a claim to the assets of the deceased viz. bank accounts, securities, etc. Obtaining a succession certificate is a faster and a convenient mode for transfer or withdrawal of funds from the bank accounts of your father-in-law.

However, it is important to keep in mind the preference of your bank. In this regard, it is advisable that you may check which option (i.e. letter of administration or succession certificate) is suitable for your bank. Once the title vests in your wife and since your wife is the only legal heir of your father-in-law, it is advisable to apply to the bank for transferring the money held in an HUF account and the mutual funds in your wife’s name and close the account.