Ancestral property is defined as the property and land that has been in the family for at least up to three generations. No doubt, it is different from the self-acquired property, which a person acquires independently. Property and land that has undergone partitions and divisions among all the members of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) does not qualify as inherited property. Moreover, the property inherited from mothers, grandmothers, uncles or brother or as a gift also is not covered in the category of inherited property.
Gaining property rights
The right to an individual shares in an ancestral property is acquired by birth and not upon the death of the current property owner. Until 2005, the Hindu Succession Act specified that only male heirs of the family would be eligible to get shares in ancestral property. This was later revised to include women.
- Intestate death – If the property owner dies without leaving a Will, then all legal heirs can claim their share in the property. The Hindu Succession Act classifies legal heirs as the widow, children and mother.
- Self-acquired property –In fact, the owner has the right to Will it to anyone he chooses. If the owner dies, leaving behind his self-acquired property, then all the legal heirs have equal share in the property.
- Married daughters – The amendment to the Hindu Succession Act, 2005 brought changes to the rights of married daughters, and also making them eligible for a share in the ancestral property.
- Fathers and sons – Siblings of the owner of the property get first preference. After the property has been distributed to each sibling, the owner’s children can now claim a share of their father’s portion of the property and land. However, now the division of the property is no longer classified as ancestral.
- Grandchildren – A daughter’s grandchildren have the same rights to a share of undivided inherited property.
Selling your share
You have the right to sell your share of an ancestral property if you are the head of a HUF. However, it is not an individual choice as other family members who own a share might raise objections.
In popular culture, ancestral property is often the subject of sprawling soap operas, the stomping ground for massive family feuds. But beyond that, ancestral property is an asset that has tangible and intangible benefits.