- When a person passes away, their property and assets are transferred to their legal heirs or relatives, which depends on whoever is present.
- It is done in two ways which are by way of a will or Testamentary Succession or Intestate Succession. The assets and belongings divide between the members as per laws of inheritance and Will (if present).
What is Meant by Inheritance?
- It means the property that is transferred to descendants after an individual passes away.
- The laws of inheritance deal with property, assets, titles, shares, funds, and other obligations that belonged to the deceased person and were transferred to another individual by the laws of inheritance in India.
- There are plenty of provisions related to it, and one must acknowledge it to make proper decisions regarding the property. Many times laws of inheritance are not used decisively, and family partition takes place.
There are two ways to succeed in a property that a successor must understand and have knowledge about. These are:
- Through Will / Testamentary Succession: This type of Succession in-laws of inheritance means that the deceased person leaves behind a Will, which is of legal value, and property is distributed as it is mentioned in the Will as per laws of inheritance.
- Intestate Succession: In laws of inheritance, this means that the deceased person did not leave any will behind, so the property and assets are equally divided and distributed among heirs who can be further divided into relationship-wise categories.
The Indian laws of inheritance govern the division, distribution, and protection of the property and assets of a deceased person in two cases which are divided as:
- Personal laws of Inheritance: This method applies where the will is not applied or is not present. There are two laws of inheritance under this which are the Hindu Succession Act of 1946 and the Muslim Personal laws (Shariat) Application Act.
- The Indian Succession Act of 1925: This applies when Hindus deal with Testamentary Succession. This means that the deceased person left a will, and distribution will happen accordingly.
Types of Properties where Laws of Inheritance apply
There are two types of properties where the laws of inheritance come into effect, and the properties are distributed as per the provisions.
- Ancestral property: The property which is inherited for up to 3 or 4 generations is known as ancestral property. Every child born in such a family has a right over such property by birth. The heirs can legally claim their share and divide as per rational circumstances.
- Self-acquired property: Such type of property is owned by an individual on their income or savings. It does not belong to anyone else other than the legal owner of the property. Such property cannot be claimed by every heir as the owner can transfer it to anyone they wish through a will.
What are the Laws of Inheritance for Women?
- In recent times, a major drawback was found and put forward that there was inequality among women in cases of property ownership and property share.
- Their rights are not necessarily fulfilled, and the daughters never had their part in the family assets.
- The concept was changed as the most important amendment was made to the Hindu Succession Act in 2005, which provided the rights of an equal share in property and assets to the daughters.
- They were to receive an equal ratio as sons-in-law of inheritance for Succession.
- Before 2005, the circumstances were different for sons and daughters in terms of Succession. The sons had every right over the property, but married daughters did not have any upper hand or rights.
- Only an unmarried daughter had a right to receive a property share. After amending laws, the daughter and son have similar legal rights.
- This is different from Muslim law in terms of the laws of inheritance; daughters do not have any rights. Moreover, women have fewer shares and ownership than men.
- Christian law is the same as Hindu law where daughters and sons are given equal space and rights.
What is a Will?
- A will is a legal instrument through which a person can transfer their acquired or inherited property to their legal heirs. The individual who writes the will voluntarily is the “Testator.”
- They can take legal consultation to understand laws related to property and opt for will registration as it makes it legally enforced and valid. This document expresses their wishes and intentions, which they want to happen after their death.
- A will is made voluntarily and should be written to come into effect after their death. It contains brief notes and information about how the property will be divided and distributed and to whom.
- This became a very useful document as this will omit the chances of disputes in the future and lays the ground for certain shares for every heir.
- Will registration is not mandatory, but it is advisable to complete a registry to make it lawfully valid and valuable. The executor’s name will be mentioned in the will, who will have the authority to righteously distribute the property.
Rights of Grandchildren and Spouses
- According to the laws of inheritance, grandchildren have equal rights as their parents on the inherited property/ ancestral property.
- In the case of Self-acquired, the grandson has rights over the father’s and grandfather’s property.
- A wife has no right over the family’s ancestral property. A widow or not, she is not included in ancestral properties, which means they have rights only over the self-acquired property.
The people going through Succession and inheritance rights should take legal consultation to avoid family disputes and confusion. The property lawyer can help with matters and resolve issues simply and promptly after going through the Laws of Inheritance.