Hindu Marriage in India - validity in UK for HMRC Purposes

I am acting for clients who married in India in the 1970s, in a Hindu religious ceremony, in relation to their Wills. There was apparently no requirement in India for the marriage to be formally registered in any way, and so no marriage certificate exists. There is a letter from the Indian Consulate confirming that an affidavit made by a witness to the wedding would be sufficient evidence of the fact of a wedding for the Indian courts. There is such an affidavit in the possession of my clients (together with a photo album documenting the day).

Will HMRC simply accept this as evidence that a marriage subsists? If not, then I will simply draft ‘old-fashioned’ IHT planning wills to get the nil rate band that way.

Any comments gratefully received.

Damian Lines
Rubin Lewis O’Brien

I cannot see why HMRC will not accept this as evidence, especially if it is coupled with other evidence showing how the couple have been known as husband and wife. Taking a belt and braces approach, the couple could try and have a wedding at the local registry. I say ‘try’ because the registrar will probably advise that they cannot marry someone who is already married. Either way, provided evidence is retained your clients IHT position should be safe.

Haroon Rashid
I Will Solicitors

Many thanks for this, Haroon.

Damian Lines
Rubin Lewis O’Brien

Why don’t they simply get married now at a quiet ceremony at a Register Office to avoid any doubt about the legality in this country of the Hindu ceremony?

Cliona O’Tuama