The Private Client team at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas shares their comments and opinions in an article in the following Q&A which was published by the Mint Newspaper on 12th May, 2021 and the online edition of the same can be found here.
My paternal grandfather wrote a Will for an equal distribution of a house to his son (my father, who died in 2010) and grandsons (my brothers) without any mention about the granddaughter (me). I have four brothers. The elder one voluntarily parted ways after a mutual agreement in 1990. He is now deceased. Now, the remaining three brothers are claiming equal rights on the property based on my grandfather’s Will. But my assumption is that I’m allowed to claim my share in the property too based on inheritance rights.
It is not clear whether your paternal grandfather had inherited this property from three generations above him (potentially making it an ancestral property) or whether it was self-acquired. We assume the property was self-acquired. If so, your paternal grandfather would have the right to transfer the property to any person during his lifetime or under his Will (to the exclusion of others, including yourself). While we are not aware of the full scope of the 1990 mutual agreement, we assume it was limited to your elder brother relinquishing his rights to the property as a result of the separation.
It would be important for you to review the title deeds and assess the ownership history of the property based on public records and the documents available with you. Based on the ownership history, you will be able to determine whether your grandfather inherited the asset from his grandfather (making it ancestral in nature), or whether this was self-acquired during his lifetime. Please also determine whether such property was added to the corpus of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) that your grandfather may have had. If so, it would form part of the HUF’s assets and could not be bequeathed under his Will.
If the property is determined to be ancestral in nature, you are right to assume that you could claim a right in such property. We would suggest you seek legal counsel.