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Can you contest for any changes in a will made by your father

The following article was first published in the Mint newspaper on 3rd August, 2022. The same was written by our Private Client team at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, who frequently publish their comments and opinions in the Mint. The online version of the article can be found here.

My father has in his will made long back stated that his property should be transferred in the name of my elder brother in the unfortunate event of his death. I am married now but as his only daughter, can I contest for changes to be made in the Will and thereby get a share in his property?

—Name withheld on request 

India has ‘testamentary’ freedom—people making their will have compete freedom to give any personal property owned by them to whomsoever they may wish. (There are two main types of succession: Testamentary succession, or one done with a will, and Intestate succession, or one without a will). Certain types of properties like those of Hindu Undivided Families are subject to other rules, but that does not seem relevant in this case

Your father has chosen to leave his property to his son. So, upon his death, the property under the will would go to your brother. You will not have a share in the estate being bequeathed.

Also note that the will only comes into effect upon the testator’s passing, so while your father is live, no transfer has yet taken place.

In the absence of any issues like fraud, coercion or undue influence, there is very little you can do to challenge the will —and even these challenges are extremely difficult, expensive and long winded to achieve in practice.

Under the circumstance,s you are better off discussing openly with your father while he is alive about him bequeathing  you some property as a gift.