June 1, 2023

When is property considered hereditary with claims to people from multiple generations?

— Yukhin Ajmera

In India, hereditary property is determined under the Hindu Succession Act 1956, which applies to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. In accordance with the law, inheritance property means any property inherited from four generations of male ancestors.

It is important to note that the term “ancestral property” refers to Hindu law and may not apply to other religions or legal systems. In addition, the definition and legal implications of ancestral property may vary by jurisdiction and the specific laws governing inheritance in that region.

To clarify the above, hereditary property is the term used in law to refer to property that has been passed down from four or more generations to generations in a family, usually through the male line. An individual acquires the right to inherit property by birth. In general, ancestral property refers to property that has been inherited. In general, ancestral property is considered to be property that has been in the family for four or more generations and has not been divided or sold. To qualify as ancestral property, that property must be acquired by a common ancestor and remain undivided, unsold, and undivided through successive generations. When and if this property is divided, then each person must receive his separate equal share.

Consider this: if your great-grandfather had inherited property, it would have passed to your grandfather when he died. It will pass to your father and his siblings after your grandfather passes away. However, in a similar situation, where your great-grandfather has ancestral property, it will pass to your grandfather after his death, but your grandfather decides to divide the property among his children. In this case, the property is no longer considered hereditary.

It is also worth noting that while in India, ancestral property can be passed down through the male line, there are legal provisions allowing female heirs to claim a share of the property under certain circumstances. For example, the Hindu Succession Act 1956 allows daughters to have equal inheritance rights with sons on ancestral property, regardless of when the property was acquired.

Neha Pathak is Head of Trust and Estate Planning at Motilal Oswal Private Wealth.

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