Rights of a Daughter to Ancestral Property

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Over the years, there is significant progress in India regarding women’s rights to inherit and own property. As a result, Indian women are now more confident and vocal about their involvement in wealth planning and management. This shift in attitude is because of  advancements made in Indian succession laws. Let’s get an overview of the rights of a daughter to ancestral property and in other cases through this article.

Understanding the Two Types of Property in India: Ancestral and Self-Acquired

In India, you can divide the type of property into two categories: ancestral and self-acquired property.

Ancestral Property is defined as property inherited by 4 generations of male lineage and it stays undivided throughout the period.

On the other hand, the self-acquired property is defined as property bought by the father with his own funds.

Daughters’ Inheritance Rights When Property is Ancestral 

Inheritance rights if a daughter is married

  • The marital status of a daughter is not relevant when it comes to inheriting her father’s ancestral property.
  • The Hindu Succession Act underwent an amendment in 2005 that recognized daughters as coparceners in ancestral property.
  • Coparcener status means that daughters have a birthright to inherit their ancestral property.
  • The amendment grants daughters an equal share in ancestral property as that of a son, regardless of their marital status.
  • In conclusion, even after getting married, a daughter still has the right to inherit her ancestral property.

Inheritance rights if daughter is not married

  • Both married and unmarried daughters have equal rights to their father’s property as their brothers.
  • You must note that daughters also have the same duties and liabilities as their brothers.

Inheritance Rights for Daughters and Fathers Prior to 2005 Amendments to Hindu Succession Act

  • A daughter has the same inheritance rights as a son at the time of partition, regardless of whether she was born before or after September 9, 2005.
  • A landmark ruling by the Supreme Court in August 2020 established that a daughter is entitled to a share in ancestral or coparcenary property under the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005, even if her father died before the amendment was enacted.

Daughters’ Inheritance Rights When Property is Non-Ancestral or Self- Acquired

  • The father has the right to dispose of self-acquired property in any way he chooses.
  • So, In the case of self-acquired property, the father has the option to give it to children or to anyone.
  • The father may choose not to pass down self-acquired property to his children. Sons or daughters may not receive self-acquired property if the father chooses not to give it to them.

Inheritance Rights of Daughters in the Absence of a Father’s Will

  • Legal heirs receive an equal share of both ancestral and self-acquired property when a father dies intestate(Without Will).
  • In short, Daughters have the same rights as their brothers to inherit the father’s property when he dies without a will.

Inheritance Laws for Muslims in India

  • Muslim personal laws apply in case of non-testamentary succession, as per the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937.
  • Muslim laws for succession are not codified and are based on four sources of personal Islamic law: the Holy Quran, the Sunnah, the Ijma, and the Qiya.
  • There are two types of heirs in Muslim law:
    • Sharers (entitled to a certain share in the deceased’s property) and
    • Residuaries (take up the share in the property left over after the sharers).
  • Inheritance of property in Muslim law comes only after a person’s death and not by birth, unlike the Hindu Succession Act.
  • Muslim law does not create any bias between the rights of men and women, and both become legal heirs of the inheritable property once the ancestor dies.
  • However, in some cases, Muslim males receive a double share as compared to Muslim females because women receive Mehr and maintenance from their husband, while men are duty-bound to maintain their wives and children.

Inheritance Laws for Christians, Parsis & Jews in India:

  • Christians (and Jews) are governed by the Indian Succession Act, of 1925, specifically by Sections 31 to 49 of this Act.
  • Under this Act, Christians inherit equally, irrespective of gender.
  • If the father or mother dies intestate, a daughter would inherit equally as her brother(s).
  • In case the deceased leaves behind a widow and lineal descendants, the widow gets a one-third share in the estate, and the remaining two-thirds go to the lineal descendants.
  • If there are no lineal descendants but another relative is alive, the widow will get half of the share, and if she is the only one surviving without any kindred or lineal descendants, the whole estate belongs to the widow.

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