Inheritance can be defined as the property given to a lineage upon the death of a relative. Inheritance and Succession in India are the determination of property, titles, debts, rights, and obligations to another person on the death of an individual. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is enacted by the parliament, for the resolution of disputes relating to the succession and inheritance of the property after the death of a Hindu.
There are two aspects to this act i.e. Intestate or non-testamentary succession which inheritance of the property of a deceased without a will, and testamentary succession meaning in the presence of a will. The general law is every Indian is entitled to equal shares on inheriting the property on the death of a person. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 provides provisions relating to intestate succession amongst Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. Muslim personal law is applicable in the case of Muslims.
Inheritance and Succession in India Under Hindu Succession Act, 1956,
the properties of a Hindu male dying intestate devolves, equally on his sons, daughters, widow, and mother and include the specified heirs of predeceased sons or daughters. The widow of the deceased is entitled to inherit the property equally with sons and daughters. If the husband so desires, may write a Will and exclude his wife.
The Hindu Law distinguishes between the inheritance of a Hindu male and a female.
Hindu Male: As per the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 the property of a Hindu Male will be inherited by his mother, widow, son(s) or their legal heirs in case predeceased. Each heir is entitled to one share in the property of the deceased male.
Where the deceased has none of the above; his estate shall be inherited by the father, brother, sister, brother’s children, sister’s children. However, if the any brother or sister predecease the hindu male; only the heir living at the time of the death of the Hindu Male will be inherit the property.
Class I heirs
- Son of a predeceased son,
- Daughter of the predeceased son,
- Widow of the predeceased son,
- Son of a predeceased daughter,
- Daughter of the predeceased daughter,
- Son of predeceased so of the predeceased son,
Class II heirs
- Son’s daughter’s son,
- Son’s daughter’s daughter,
- Daughter’s son’s son,
- Daughters’ son’s daughter,
- Daughter’s son,
- Daughters Daughter’s daughter,
- Brother’s son,
- Sister’s son,
- Brother’s daughter,
- Sister’s daughter,
- Father’s father,
- Father’s mother,
- Father’s widow,
- Brother’s widow,
- Father’s brother,
- Father’s sister,
- Mother’s father,
- Mother’s mother,
- Mother’s brother,
- Mothers sister.
Hindu Female: Inheritance and Succession in India for the property of a Hindu female dying intestate, or without a will, shall be inherited by her sons and daughters (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter) and the husband. In case the property of the Hindu female was inherited by her from her parents; it will only devolve upon her children and in case of no children will go her parents or their legal heirs.
Although most people have strong views about how they’d like their property distributed, not everyone leaves a will because of reason of sudden death or any other circumstance. It is not typically an issue in cases where there is a will it only takes place in case of absence of will. Those who do make wills usually leave their property to the people they expect to receive, such as their spouses, children and other close relatives.
Inheritance and Succession in India is the order in which a person’s heirs will receive their property upon the death, if the deceased fails to leave a will describing how they wish their property to be distributed.
Sharers and Residuaries are two types of heirs under Muslim Law. Sharers are entitled to a certain share and the residuaries are entitled to what is left after the sharers take their entitlement.
Under the Muslim law following are the Sharers:
- Daughter of a son (or son’s son or son’s son and so on)
- Paternal Grandfather
- Grandmother on the male line
- Full sister
- Consanguine sister
- Uterine sister and
- Uterine brother.
The share taken by each sharer will vary in certain conditions.
A husband will take a half share in the wife’s estate where the couple does not have lineal descendants (children), and a one-fourth share where they have lineal descendants.
A widow shall have 1/4th share where she and her husband have no lineal descendants and a one-eighth share otherwise.
For son(s) and daughter(s); the daughters cease to be sharers and become residuaries to the father’s estate(the distribution of the residue is in a manner that son(s) get two times of that of the daughter.)
Where the deceased only leaves behind a daughter; she is entitled to ½ share and in case there are more than one daughter; they are entitled to get a share to the extent of 2/3rd)
Only if an heir lives even after the death, he is therefore entitled to a share in the property. Meaning thereby that there shall be no such right of inheritance and Succession in India is the order in which a person’s heirs will receive their property upon the death, if the deceased fails to leave a will describing how they wish their property to be distributed. or share if any heir predeceases his ancestor. Where a deceased Muslim has no legal heir under Muslim law, his properties are inherited by Government through the process of escheat.
The Indian Succession Act states that the assets left behind by a Christian or a Parsi will be inherited by his mother, widow and children in equal shares.
Lack of knowledge about inheritance and succession rights in India is the primary cause of family feuds and it becomes important to understand what the right of inheritance of legal heirs in India is. To avoid these complexities of the legal process it is quite logical to hire an attorney to deal with these complexities.