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Jurisdiction: India

Religious Denomination: Hindu

Relevant Legislation: Hindu Succession Act 1956

Following the demise of the testator who followed the commonly accepted Hindu way of life, how much latitude does the executor have in terms of the processing of the will? A beneficiary/heir verbally asked certain provisions of the will to be tested/quantified on the ground prior to acceptance/committing to the will.

E.g. Seeking expert opinion on the value stated of a collectible & more cash equal to the difference.

E.g. Whether a parcel of land is equally divided amongst all stated beneficiaries to it & cash consideration for differences if any.

It is my belief this amounts to a challenge; the equivalent of "Let me eat the cake, then I will decide whether to have it". Am I right; does it amount to a challenge? What if the will contains a forfeit clause against any challenge?

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    What do you mean about "testing/quantifying" provisions? Asking a court if such provisions are legal?
    – sharur
    Jun 2 at 18:27
  • @sharur The question is updated with illustration in line with your query.
    – Everyone
    Jun 3 at 3:03
  • From answers posted thus far it is clear, legally, the clarification/quantification do not amount to a challenge. Neither answer however addresses the second part of the question - can a will take away the right to challenge it in a court of law?
    – Everyone
    Jun 4 at 10:14
  • 1
    you may want to edit that "second part of the question" explicitly into your question body, because I at least don't see it. Or, better yet, ask a new question (questions being free to ask here).
    – sharur
    Jun 4 at 15:02
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With testamentary succession, the matter is simple: do what the will says. Religion aside, the Indian Succession Act, 1925 says

  1. As to what property deceased considered to have died intestate.—A person is deemed to die intestate in respect of all property of which he has not made a testamentary disposition which is capable of taking effect. Illustrations (i) A has left no will. He has died intestate in respect of the whole of his property. (ii) A has left a will, whereby he has appointed B his executor; but the will contains no other provision. A has died intestate in respect of the distribution of his property. (iii) A has bequeathed his whole property for an illegal purpose. A has died intestate in respect of the distribution of his property. (iv) A has bequeathed 1,000 rupees to B and 1,000 rupees to the eldest son of C, and has made no other bequest; and has died leving the sum of 2,000 rupees and no other property. C died before A without having ever had a son. A has died intestate in respect of the distribution of 1,000 rupees.

Then other acts address intestate succession, such as the Hindu Succession Act. If we suppose the will only identifies an executor, then w.r.t. distribution the Hindi Succession Act (etc.) govern the distribution. Those acts are ostensibly specific enough that there is no discretion: except, the law only addresses portions of the estate, and not very specific matters such as who gets the watch and who gets the computer. Indeed, there is a reasonable chance that property is not wholely transferred to a beneficiary, instead the beneficiary gain an interest in the property. There are also related provisions regarding an heir's transfer of his interest in property where other heirs have a "right of first refusal". So in general, the laws of intestate succession remove discretion from the equation. A will could, however, empower an executor to make a decision. The provisions of the will must be in writing.

"Challenging" a will is a specific legal process, not the same as "asking about a will". If a legal petition has been filed, the will is challenged. If a person asks a lawyer "is that really legal; what does that mean", that is not a challenge.

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It is my belief this amounts to a challenge; the equivalent of "Let me eat the cake, then I will decide whether to have it". Am I right; does it amount to a challenge? What if the will contains a forfeit clause against any challenge?

In most contexts a challenge means a legally asserted claim that a will is, in whole or in part, legally invalid, for example, because of allegations that it was forged or improperly executed, or was signed by a person who was incompetent or under undue influence.

Generally, a "challenge" is not a term that encompasses inquiries or disputes over how an estate is administered, if the validity of the will is not challenged.

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