The legal heirs to a deceased husband typically include individuals who are entitled to inherit the deceased’s property and assets according to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. If there is a valid will, the deceased’s wishes regarding the distribution of assets will be outlined, and the legal heirs will inherit according to the terms of the will. If there is no will or if the will is deemed invalid, the laws of intestacy in the relevant jurisdiction will govern the distribution of the deceased’s estate. This is a good way of disposing the property without any contentions as the property gets divided as per the will of the deceased person and therefore there are less chances of disputes. 

When a person passes away and doesn’t make a Will, then his property is distributed between his surviving legal heirs as per the laws of succession. Firstly, upon class one legal heirs, and if there are no legal heirs in class one category, then the property is distributed to the legal heirs in class two category and so on.

In India the property is divided among the legal heirs of the deceased according to the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, which underwent an amendment in the year 2005.


Properties are the assets mainly immovable and tangible that are possessed by an individual. They are primarily of two types that is- Ancestral property and Self-acquired property.

Ancestral property is the one which is inherited by a person from either his father or grandfather by virtue of being their son or grandson, which will further be devolved upon the upcoming generations.

Self- acquired property on the other hand is the one which is acquired or possessed by the person from their own income or wealth. He has complete ownership of that property. However, after the father’s death, if he has made Will transferring the property or a share in such property to only one of his sons or daughters, others cannot challenge such transfer as it was done by discretion pertaining to the self-acquired property of the father.

The primary difference between these properties is that an individual can not divest his legal heirs from his ancestral property, because they become coparceners by virtue of taken birth in the particular household however, on the contrary he can divest his son/daughter from his self-acquired property as he has bought it on his own and thus can debar his heir by making a will. 


Under Hindu law, the succession of property can occur through various ways, and the rules governing it depend on factors such as the nature of the property, the presence or absence of a will, and the relationships between the deceased and the heirs. There are basically two ways in which the property can be succeeded to the legal heirs after the death of the person, they are:

Testamentary succession: If a Hindu individual creates a valid will, they can specify how their property should be distributed after their death. The will allows for a more personalized allocation of assets among the heirs, and it must be executed according to the requirements outlined in the Hindu Succession Act.

Intestate succession (without will): In the absence of a valid will, the succession is governed by the rules of intestate succession as per the Hindu Succession Act. The Act outlines the order of priority for different classes of heirs, and the property is distributed accordingly.


When the father dies intestate: If before dying the father makes a will to declare the distribution of his property among his legal heirs then it happens according and no contention regarding the distribution is entertained, provided that the will is valid. However, if the father dies intestate then the distribution of the property is according to the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, which divides the heirs in different categories and according they are given preference. 

SECTION 8 deals with the general rules of succession in case of males: It states that when a male person dies intestate in the division of the property the prime importance is given to the Class 1 heirs. In the absence of any class 1 heir, the property is then devolved among the class 2 heirs and in absence of them, the agnates are given the share and at last the cognates are considered.


Under Hindu law, heirs are classified into different categories based on their proximity to the deceased and their relationship. The classification is crucial for determining the order of succession in the absence of a valid will. The classification of the heirs between Class1 and class 2 and between agnates and cognates is given under Section 10, 11 and 12 respectively.

Section 10 – Class 1 heirs. It provides 4 rules for the distribution of property in the class 1 heirs, which include:

Rule 1: Widow or widows of the pre-deceased person.

Rule 2: Sons, daughters and mother of the pre-deceased get 1 share each.

Rule 3: Children of any pre-deceased son or daughter.

Rule 4: Distribution of Share under Rule 3:

  • In case of pre-deceased son, widow, son and daughter get the share.
  • In case of pre-deceased daughter, the property is distributed between the son and daughter.

Section 11: Class 2 heirs include a list of relationships which are:

  • Father
  • Siblings
  • Grandfather, grandmother (both maternal and paternal)
  • Niece and nephew
  • Uncle and aunt (both maternal and paternal)

Section 12 – Agnates:  An agnate is thus a blood relative in the patrilineal (or male) line. Agnation refers to a kinship system in which relationship is traced exclusively through the male line.

Cognates: One person is said to be a cognate of another if the two are related by blood or adoption but not wholly through males.

Inheritance right of the children: According to the Hindu Succession Act of 1956, children who are parents’ offspring are entitled to inherit their parents’ possessions. Children are therefore considered class-I legal heirs. However, under Hindu law, children’s rights vary depending on the kind of property. As previously mentioned, self-acquired property and ancestral property are the two categories of property under Hindu law. Since parental property is passed down from great-grandfather to grandfather, father, and finally son, children have a birth right to it. As a result, a father cannot take away his children’s inheritance rights.

A man with his income also buys property that is not ancestral in nature and thus called self-acquired property. It is up to the father to decide whether or not to gift his kids a portion of his self-acquired property. The father cannot be compelled by the children to give them a share in this property.

Inheritance right of property: Before 2005, daughters were not considered as coparcener in their father’s property. Daughters could earlier take a part of their father’s self-acquired property, but they had no right in the ancestral property, they could also not ask for partition. But after the Hindu Succession (Amendment) act, 2005, daughters are considered equal as the son. This means that, the daughter gets all the rights attached with coparcenary, including the right to ask for partition of the property and to become a Karta of the Hindu Undivided Family.  By virtue of section 6, now daughters have equal rights, shares and liabilities as of that of the son in respect to the property of her father.

Inheritance right of a wife: The wife falls within the category of class 1 heirs therefore in the event of the death of the husband, the wife gets equal share in his property as her children.

Inheritance right of father and mother: Mother comes under the category of Class 1 heirs, which means that she is entitled to equal share in her son’s property as the widow and the children of the pre-deceased son. However, father comes under Class 2 category of heirs therefore, the distribution of property after his son’s death is according to the provision of the Act keeping in mind whether there is any other legal heir of class 1 category.


Under Hindu law, the distribution of property to the wife and other legal heirs is governed by various legal provisions, primarily the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The Act has been amended over time to ensure gender equality and address issues related to succession and inheritance. In the absence of a will, the distribution of property typically follows a specific order, with priority given to certain heirs. If the deceased has both a wife and children, they all have a rightful share in the property. The widow is entitled to a share equal to that of each son, while daughters inherit equally. It’s essential to note that the amendment of 2005 to the Hindu Succession Act have significantly impacted the rights of daughters, granting them equal rights in ancestral property. Additionally, the legal framework aims to provide protection to widows and ensure their financial well-being.

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