It is always advisable that one writes a Will. However, if a person could not write a Will then state’s inheritance law is applied to divide the belongings of deceased. If the deceased is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh Hindu Succession Act 1956 will be used to divide the estate.
Preference of Distribution of Inheritance
- If there are survivors of Class I then the inheritance will be distributed to Class I members only.
- If there are no Class I members then inheritance will be distributed to Class II members
- If there are no Class II members then inheritance will be given to Agnate – heir related by blood or adoption wholly through male descendants.
- If there are no Agnates then inheritance will be given to Cognates – related by blood or adoption by female and/or male descendants
- If there is no heir as per above provisions then government will take the property
Distribution of Property in Class I
All members of Class I will be given equal share. This is where a Will may be useful if the deceased did not want to distribute one’s inheritance in different proportion.
- Widow(s). If there is more than one widow then one share will be given to all widows and widows will divide that share among themselves.
- Son/daughter of pre-deceased son.
- Son/daughter of pre-deceased daughter.
- Son/daughter of pre-deceased son/daughter of pre-deceased son/daughter
In above two categories, the inheritance will further be divided such that all widows get one share and son and daughter one share each and one share goes to branch of pre-deceased son and branch of pre-deceased daughter.
Distribution of Property in Class II
All members of Class II will be given equal share.
- Son’s daughter’s son/daughter,
- Daughter’s son’s son/daughter
- Daughter’s daughter’s son/daughter
- Sibling son/daughter
- Father’s Parents
- Brother’s widow
- Father’s sibling
- Mother’s parents
- Mother’s sibling
Distribution of Property among Agnates and Cognates
- Determine the generation of people from the deceased to agnates and cognates. Similarly, count the number of generations from agnates and cognates to the youngest generation. These counts are degrees.
- Agnates are given preference over Cognates. Motive is to determine one heir who will inherit all the wealth of the deceased.
- Order of choosing agnate/cognate who will inherit all the wealth
- First preference is given to person who has least degrees of ascent i.e. there are minimum number of generations between the person and the deceased.
- Second preference is given to person who has least degrees of descent i.e. there are minimum number of generations of the person.
- If more than one person qualify after above two tests then inheritance is divided equally among them.
Hindu Succession Law if a Female dies
The preference of distribution of property owned by female that has not prepared a Will be carried out in the following order
- Sons, daughters, children of pre-deceased son/daughter, husband. Each will get one share and descendants of pre-deceased son/daughter will get one share that will need to be distributed further among themselves.
- Heirs of husband unless the deceased had inherited the property from her father or mother. If the property was inherited from father or mother then preference would be given to mother and father and heir of father over husband.
- Mother and father
- Heir of father
- Heir of mother
Other provision of this Law
- If male and female both dies simultaneously then older person is considered to have died first and younger later. Younger person will inherit the wealth of older person just as if the younger was alive. Thereafter, the younger person’s wealth will be distributed as per this law.
- This law does not apply to coparcenary property (ancestral property that is jointly owned by the deceased and someone else).
- If any person murders or abets murder then murdered will not inherit any property of the murdered person.
- If a person converts from Hindu to some other religion so that the person is not governed by Hindu Succession Act then his descendants will not qualify to receive any inheritance unless he converted after the death of the deceased.
- An unborn child will be counted as one person and he will inherit just as he would have inherited if he had born.
- Preferential Right to Buy
- If there are multiple Class I inheritors and any inheritor wants to sell his share of the immovable property then other members will have preferential right to buy.
- If in above condition, a price could not be agreed then court will fix the price. If the seller backs out then the seller will need to pay all costs of the application.
- If multiple inheritors would like to buy the offered property as per point 1 then highest price offer would be given preference.