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 04th August, 2021 and the online edition of the same can be found here.
My elder brother and his wife died recently. They don’t have any children and have not left behind a Will. We were three brothers of whom now I am the sole survivor. We also have two sisters who are married. Now, who will be the successor to my late brother’s property, including movable and immovable assets?
—Name withheld on request
As your elder brother and his wife died without leaving a Will, their estate would be subject to intestacy. Assuming you and your family are Hindu by faith, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, lays down provisions for the property of a Hindu male or female dying intestate. There is no mention in your query as to whether your parents are alive as on date. Assuming both your parents have pre-deceased your late brother, each surviving sibling, including yourself and your married sisters (as Category 2 – Class II legal heirs) would take an equal share in your late brother’s estate (movable and immovable), to the exclusion of other relatives.
Also, any property owned solely or jointly by your late sister-in-law would (in the absence of her husband and children) devolve upon the legal heirs of her late husband (being yourself and your married sisters). Additionally, property inherited by her under succession from her parents would devolve upon her father’s heirs in the absence of her own children. Therefore, such property would devolve upon her siblings and mother (if alive). However, if the identity of such property has been changed or is replaced by your sister-in-law during her lifetime, it would devolve according to general rules of intestate succession. For instance, if any property inherited by your sister-in-law has been sold, and out of such proceeds a new property has been purchased, or a portion of it has been alienated, such property would be considered as her general property. In that case, your married sisters and you (Category 2 – Class II legal heirs) would be entitled to an equal share.