Ancestral Property

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 13th February, 2022 and the online edition of the same can be found here.

I have a query on Hindu Succession act: My mother has 6 brothers and 2 sisters, of which only 4 are alive including my mother. So Originally 9 children including my mother, Each of the brothers and sisters have children in the range of 2 to 9, I am aware that at this point my mother and the other 3 living siblings are righteous claimants on the ancestral property under Class-1.

Now my question is, – When my mother and the other siblings are no more, then how will the property be distributed?

My mother’s eldest brother has 9 children and her other siblings have an average of 2-3. So, if the total number of children all put together is 30, will it still be divided by 30 or will it be divided by 9 (i.e. my mother’s share and her 8 siblings)?

— A. Shankar

The generally understood concept of ancestral property under Hindu Law connotes that whenever an ancestor inherits any property from any of his paternal ancestors up to three generations above him, then his legal heirs up to three generations below him would get an equal right as coparceners in that property. Such a property should not have been divided by the members of the joint family. They become entitled to it due to their birth. However, post the 2005 Amendment to Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (“Act”), daughters are also entitled to a share in the ancestral property. Accordingly, all daughters (i.e. your mother and her sisters) who are alive, and the sons and their legal heirs (i.e. you, your sibling(s), if any and your cousins) would be entitled to a share in the ancestral property. It is pertinent to note that when a division or partition occurs in a joint Hindu family, it becomes ‘self-acquired’ property in the hands of a family member who has received it.

However, if such property is not ancestral but your maternal grandparents’ self-acquired property, the distribution would be governed by intestate succession if the same has not been bequeathed under a valid Will. Accordingly, as per the rules of intestate succession under the Act, the property is equally distributed between Class-1 heirs of the intestate, to the exclusion of Class-2 and Class-3 heirs. Therefore, the Class-1 heirs eligible to a share in the property would be the five children (i.e. your mother and her siblings). Please note that children of your mother’s four predeceased siblings would also receive a share in the property. Therefore, the property would be evenly distributed between your mother, her four siblings who are alive, and the children of your mother’s predeceased siblings. Please note that your mother’s share in the property would then be equally distributed amongst her class-1 heirs (i.e. you and your sibling(s) (if any), and her spouse).