Asset transfer plays a vital role for legal heirs to secure their inheritance after the death of a person in whose name it is registered. The process is not only tedious, but smacks of corruption.
New Delhi,UPDATED: 25 Oct 2022 13:14 IST
According to a survey, 86% of families are forced to pay bribes to real estate officials for the transfer of the deceased’s assets.
By Tirtho Banerjee: The death of a close and loved one devastates a family, but contributing to their pain is the Hercules inheritance process in India.
As many as 86% of families had to cough up bribes to have a deceased relative’s assets transferred to property registration and land transfer offices, reveals a recent survey by LocalCircles, a leading community social media platform. It adds that 77% of families struggled to get such assets transferred.
Asset transfer plays a vital role for legal heirs to secure their inheritance after the death of a person in whose name it is registered. The inheritance can be in the form of real estate, mutual funds, stocks, brokerage accounts, bank accounts, jewelry and so on.
Before the property can be transferred to the rightful heirs, a number of formalities must be completed.
Sachin Taparia, founder of LocalCircles, said: “If the deceased leaves a will or makes a voluntary transfer, the process requires the submission of a death certificate, a copy of the will and title deeds to get the transfer of ownership.” He added: “For a property whose owner dies without writing a will, the inheritance formalities will involve a settlement document reached by all legal heirs.”
The will makes things a little easier, but transferring assets is no easy feat in India. The process is cumbersome and can sometimes take years. People are asked to pay extra money (read bribes) to make the registration process easier and faster. This happens in situations where the income data is incorrect, when proof of parentage is required, the data has to be shared with the civil authorities and to reduce stamp duties.
In the survey, about 19% said they had a registered will, but despite that it was “very difficult”; 10% said they did not have a registered will and that it was “very difficult”, while 27% did not have a registered will and could not complete the process.
“On an aggregated basis, only 23% of families were able to transfer assets easily, while the majority struggled,” explains Taparia.
Overall, 25% of people said they had to pay bribes in many places, while 27% had to pay it in 1-2 places. On an aggregated basis, 52% of families had to pay bribes, some in different places, the survey found.
About 26% paid bribes to property registration/local land officials, magistrates/courts and other local and state government officials. The investigation found that 21% paid bribes to property registration/local land officials and 39% paid to property registration/local land officials and local and state government officials.
Taparia stressed that, on an aggregated basis, 86% of families had to pay bribes at real estate registration and transfer offices; 65% to other local and state government offices and 26% paid civil servants in the magistrate’s office/courts.
He said the need of the hour is for the central government to solve the problems faced by the people in processing inheritances. Policies must be devised and then rolled out to state governments to enable a one-window system in all major districts for processing inheritance or succession issues, he added.