What is ancestral property?
The property which is inherited up to 3 generations is known as ancestral property. In other words, the property descends from father, father’s father, and great grandfather. Any property inherited other than the family members/relations are known as separate property. Earlier only male members of the family have rights over the property. The amendment is the Hindu Succession Act, 2005, allows women to enjoy equal rights to the property. Presently women have the same right as men over the inherited property. Once the division or partition of property happens, all family members will get an equal share from the property.
The following are the main incidents of inherited property.
- The ancestral property should be 4 generations old.
- The property should not have been distributed by the members. When the partition of property happens, it becomes the self-acquired property and not inherited property.
- The person has the right over the property from birth.
- The inherited property rights are controlled by per stripes and not by per capita.
- First the property shares are determined for each generation and then subdivided for the successive generation.
Classification of Inherited Property
Property from paternal ancestors: Here, the Hindu male obtains the property from his father, father’s father and father’s father’s father. In simple words, property acquired from any one of the three immediate paternal ancestors. Such a property is termed as ancestral property.
Property from maternal ancestors: Any inherited property acquired from the maternal parents is considered as separate property and not ancestral property.
Property from the females: Any property inherited by the women of the house doesn’t come under the ancestral property in India. The property brought by females is treated as her separate property.
Property obtained through gift deed or Will from paternal ancestors: When a property is obtained by gift deed or by Will from his ancestors, it can be either considered as self-acquired or ancestral property. It depends on the intention of the ancestors as specified in the gift deed/Will. If the ancestors make a condition that the inheritor should take the property for the interest of the family, then it is considered as ancestral property. If no condition is made, it is known as a separate property.
Other property: Any property which is bought from the income of the inherited property is called as ancestral property. Hence anything purchased with the help of parental property is also called as ancestral property. The children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren hold an interest over the income and accretion even before their birth.
Section 26 of Hindu Succession Act states that, if a person is converted into other religion, he still has rights over the inherited property. The person has the birth right over such property, therefore the conversion cannot stop from claiming the property. The illegitimate child cannot claim any rights over the parental estate.
Under Muslim law, there is no any concept of coparcener property, hence inherited property doesn’t exist. The Indian Succession Act governs the Christian law and there are no provisions for the ancestral property. These both laws can inherit their property either through Will or gift deed or after their death the legal heir can inherit their property.