Inheriting ancestral property after death of owner? Here is what legal eagles suggest you to follow
For succession to a property, Hindus (including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs) are governed by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
Inheriting an ancestral property is not as easy as the general belief is. According to experts, there are certain laws that heirs of the deceased who owns the property, need to follow. First and foremost is the Will. However, it has been found that in the majority of cases, people die without making any Will. In such a case, there is a certain set of rules that heirs of the ancestral property must follow and ensure that the hard-earned wealth of the deceased reaches the right people.
Speaking on the role of Will in accession of the ancestral property, Balwant Jain, a Mumbai-based tax and investment expert said, "The law for succession to a property, depends on whether the deceased person has executed a Will or not. Hindus (including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs) are governed by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The rest of the Indian population comes under the Indian Succession Act, 1925." Jain said that people who come under the jurisdiction of the Hindu Succession Act can bequeath their property to any person, even excluding relatives, through the execution of a Will. In such a case, it is mandatory for the executor of the Will, to obtain probate (certification) from a court for assets in Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai.
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In the case where a deceased owner of the property does not leave behind a Will, Jain said, "The legal heirs will inherit the assets as per the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 in the prescribed order. The first preference is given to Class-I legal heirs, which includes close relatives like parents, spouse, children and their successors. When it comes to each of their shares, sons and daughters, and parents will have equal shares. A spouse too will be entitled to one share. However, in case there are more than one surviving spouse, they all will share the one portion they are entitled to. Their successors too will get only one share, which the person through whom they are claiming was entitled to."
When a house has been left without a Will, a female heir is entitled to claim a share and stay in the house. However, only the male heir has a right to divide the property and the female heir cannot call for a partition, Jain explains.
Also, even if Will has been left behind, it’s still necessary for the legal heirs to obtain a succession certificate from the court. It’s the legal document that authorises the person or people obtaining it, to represent the deceased individual for the purpose of collecting debts and securities due to him or payable in his name. For obtaining the succession certificate, an application needs to be made to a magistrate or a high court.
It’s fairly evident that a Will prevents a lot of problems from occurring and also ensures the efficient passing of property to the right people.