What are inheritance rights?

Last updated on Jun 7, 2022

When it comes to immovable property, inheritance refers to the transfer of a property’s ownership after the death of an individual. The ideal way to ensure smooth transfer of property ownership following someone’s death is through a will(( To know more about wills, read our explainer – https://nyaaya.org/topic/will/)).

However, if there is no will, i.e., an intestacy, law of inheritance applies to decide distribution of the property. In India, personal laws, customary laws and legislative laws govern the law of inheritance of property e . The broad laws are the Hindu Succession Act 1956 and Islamic personal laws.

Under the Hindu law of inheritance, a person/owner can deal with their self-acquired property as they like, but there are restrictions about transfer of ancestral property. The law gives certain family members a birthright to ancestral properties. Brothers and sisters are entitled to equal shares in the property of their mother or father under the Hindu law of inheritance. Here, the terms ‘son’ and ‘daughter’ include adopted sons and daughters, but not stepchildren.

If the survivors have a dispute over immovable property, and the owner of the property does not have a will, they can file a suit before court.

In the case of Muslim law of inheritance, the personal laws that apply depend on which sub-sect one belongs to, i.e., Sunni or Shia. The laws are not codified, which means that there is no act setting them down. For Sunnis following Hanafi Law, personal law restricts legacies to a maximum of one-third of the estate remaining after taking care of funeral expenses, outstanding wages of domestic servants and debts.

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