Saturday, 22 December 2018

Nomination - An Ignored but Significant Parameter

Whenever we invest money in a new avenue such as a bank account, mutual fund, insurance, etc, there is a tendency in most of us to quickly complete the paperwork and while doing so, we sometime forget to appoint a nominee for our investments. Sometimes we are not sure whom to appoint a nominee and we postpone to update this feature. Unless there is a mandate to appoint a nominee for a particular investment, even advisors/agents skip this important parameter. Result is the kin of the investor has to bear the consequence incase of an uncertain event.
Nomination - An Ignored but Significant Parameter

Let me explain with the help of an example which prompted me to write this article. My house helper's father passed away last month due to prolonged illness. He had a savings account with a public bank which had some balance. Since no nomination was filled while opening the account, my helper could not get access to this money and it is still lying unclaimed. The bank has told he can get access, however, that is altogether a cumbersome legal process where he has to establish claim on this money. Had a nominee been appointed when the account was opened, the money could have been claimed easily.

Overview on Nomination

In simple terms, a nominee is a person who is authorized by the owner to get the rights of his assets or investments in the event of the death of the owner. Your nominee  acts as a custodian to your assets and they can be any close family member such as Parents, Spouse or Children. The purpose of appointing a nominee is to avoid any conflict and ensure smooth transitioning of assets or investments from the owner to the nominee. They just have to establish the death by providing the death certificate and other key documents such as identity and address proof.

What Nomination is Not

Appointing a nominee does not necessarily mean that the rights of an asset or investment have been finally transferred. A Will, which is a legal document, can supersede the nomination and the rights of ownership can be transferred to the legal heir who may not be a nominee. Similarly, if an account is jointly operative with multiple holders, then nomination will become effective after the death of all the holders. However, when dealing with a financial institution such as a bank or life insurance company, the proceeds are transferred to the nominee on the death of the owner, thereby allowing the financial institution to discharge itself from the liability. Any further objection by the heirs has to be dealt in the court.

Nomination Criteria in Key Financial Products

  • Bank Accounts/Fixed Deposits: Banks allow nomination facility not only for savings account but also for lockers. The number of nominees that can be appointed depends on an individual bank policy. Some banks also specify the percentage of share incase multiple nominees are appointed. A minor can also be appointed a nominee, however, the proceeds will be transferred once the minor turns 18 and till that time a caretaker should be appointed to take care of the proceeds. You can change the nominee as many times as possible.
  • Mutual Fund Accounts: The criteria to appoint a nominee in mutual funds is quite simple. You receive a Folio No on starting a new investment and a nominee can be appointed to that Folio No. If you increase the investment in the same folio, the same nomination applies. Other features include appointing multiple nominees is possible and you can even appoint a third person (not in blood relation) as a nominee.
  • Demat Accounts: For demat accounts, only 1 nominee can be appointed for 1 account. Equity shares are governed by Companies Act while demat holdings by Depositories Act. The nomination provided for demat account also stands valid for trading account. Other features such as changing the nomination whenever you wish, or appointing a person not in blood relation are similar to above mentioned financial products. However, you will have to specify some sort of relationship between you and the nominee.
  • Life Insurance: Insurance policies are bought to ensure the dependents of the policy holder are taken care of incase of untimely death. Earlier nominees appointed were not real beneficiaries. Their role was to receive the funds from the financial institution on behalf of the legal heirs. However, there is now a provision of beneficial nominee which states to nominate only a legal heir of the policy holder. Other features such as appointing a minor or changing of nominees is similar to other products.


We all now understand the importance of nomination and how it has a direct impact on our family. I know nowadays most of us are appointing a nominee whenever we invest in a new avenue. For some avenues such as Insurance and PPF, regulators have made it mandatory to appoint a nominee and the forms are not accepted until you provide one. But I would suggest to review all your family accounts, whichever financial product they maybe, and appoint a nominee at the earliest. It is not a small thing to procrastinate. Lastly, create a Will so that if there is still something unattended, then this document will take care of it.