ancestral property

What You Must Know about Ancestral Property in India

“Shubho Bijoya, Baba, we have good news to share,” said Moonmoon, while her husband Raja, stooped down to touch his father-in-law’s feet.

Puja is over. A thin veil of sadness is hanging over the city now, with every Bengali is connecting with their near and dear ones in every way possible, online and offline.

On a Sunday, Raja and Moonmoon visited her father for Bijoya greetings with several packets of sweets in hand.

They visit Moonmoon’s father at Jodhpur Park once or twice a month and take advice on various subjects, especially on legal issues as her father is a lawyer.

Pleasantries exchanged, they set down to have some sweets and tea with Moonmoon’s mother also joining in.

“We have booked a flat,” declared Moonmoon after taking a sip of tea.

“Now, that’s really good news,” said Moonmoon’s mother.

“You have done the right thing. With the festive home loan offers abound, it is the most opportune time to book a flat,” said her father.

“It deserves a celebration,” added her mother.

“You told us about the property ownership in detail, Baba. But today, I need to know about ancestral properties. One of my college-day friends got married into an old family, and she wants to know a thing or two about it.” said Moonmoon.

“All right, we will discuss that today,” said Moonmoon’s father.

What is an Ancestral Property?                                          

An ancestral property must be self-acquired and undivided by one’s great-great-grandfather. It means that 4 generations of male lineage can have their claims on such property provided the property remains undivided.

Also, whenever someone inherits a property from any of his paternal ancestors up to three generations above him, his legal heirs of up to three generations below him would get equal rights, as coparceners in that property.

The Property must be Undivided

If, however, the property is divided among family members up to 4 generations, then it ceases to be an ancestral property and is reclassified into a self-acquired property in the hands of the new owners after division.

Suppose a man divides his ancestral property among his 2 sons and 2 grandsons, then the ancestral property ceases to be treated as such. It becomes self-acquired property in the hands of his sons and grandsons.

In other words, when a division or a partition takes place in a joint Hindu family by way of partition deed or family arrangement, the property becomes self-acquired in the hands of the family member, who has received it.

Rights and Share in Ancestral Property

In the case of ancestral properties, the right of each stakeholder arises at the time of his birth. In other forms of inheritance, such as inheritance through a will, the right arises at the time of the owner’s death.

The share of each generation is first determined and the share of successive generations is further subdivided from the share. Note here that the share of each member in his ancestral property is constantly decreasing as newer members keep adding into the family. At some point, your share in an ancestral property is likely to become quite insignificant and not worth pursuing.

The previous generation will have a prior claim on ancestral property. This means that the claim of the following generations will be a sub-division of what is left after the property is divided among the stakeholders of the prior generation.

If a man has two brothers, their ancestral property will first be divided into three shares. The share of each brother can then be divided among their offspring and so on.

Women’s Rights and Share in Ancestral Property

After the amendment in the succession law through the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, women have been accepted as coparceners. Now, both, sons and daughters, are coparceners (Under the Hindu succession law, the term coparcener is used to denote a person, who assumes a legal right in his ancestral property, by birth in a Hindu Undivided Family). in the family and share equal rights and liabilities over the property. A daughter remains a coparcener in the property even after her marriage.

A daughter can inherit her deceased father’s property, irrespective of whether the father was alive on this date or not.

The wife is entitled to a share in her husband’s ancestral property in the capacity of his Class-1 heir after his death. On the other hand, a son-in-law is not considered a part of the family of his father-in-law, and he has no right in a property owned by the latter.

Selling an Ancestral Property

While the head of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) has the power to manage the family assets under the Hindu law, an ancestral property cannot be sold by the sole decision of one or part-owners, since four generations have their claim over such a property. The consent of each stakeholder will be required, to sell an undivided ancestral property. All coparceners, including daughters, can seek partition and sale of the ancestral property. In case a stakeholder is denied his/her share in the property or in case one member decides to sell the property without consulting other members, appropriate legal steps can be taken, demanding his/her rights.

“I think, Moonmoon, these points are sufficient for anyone who wants to know a thing or two about ancestral properties. If your friend wants to know her husband’s right in his ancestral property, this information will help. Otherwise, she can always contact me.” said her father.

“Let us now plan for a great grihaprabesh for your new home. Well, before that, how about a mesmerizing décor of your flat?” asked Moonmoon’s mother.

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