Do NRI have any right to Ancestral Property in India

A property can be divided into self-acquired property or inherited property. Further, the property can be inherited either through the Will or as ancestral property. In this article, we will discuss ancestral property and rights to ancestral property, in detail.

What is an Ancestral Property?

Ancestral property is the property that has been passed down the generation of your great-grandfather to your generation. The property here refers to the self-acquired property of your great-grandfather, that hasn’t been divided or partitioned by the previous generations. Once the property is partitioned, it ceases to be an ancestral property. Instead, the divided share becomes the self-acquired property of the beneficiary.

Who has the right to ancestral property?

Right to ancestral property is accrued by the virtue of birth, unlike other forms of inheritance where the right is decided after the death of the predecessor. Thus, every child has a right to property in the self-acquired property of their great-grandfather’s. The right to ancestral property is valid only till the four generations. And with the advent of Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, even the daughters of the family have a right to ancestral property. Every member born in a family has an equal share in the property. However, the share of the first generation is decided first and the successive generations inherit the share from their respective fathers.

What are the rules for the partition of Ancestral Property?

An Ancestral Property can be divided in different ways and for varied reasons. These are:

  1. Declaration of separation by different coparceners
  2. Partition by Notice
  3. Partition by Arbitration
  4. Partition by Agreement
  5. Partition because of conversion to another faith
  6. Partition by the Father/ head of the family
  7. Partition by the Court Suit

On partition, the siblings will get an equal share of the partitioned ancestral property, whatever be the mode of partition. On partition, the property no longer has the properties of a ancestral property. It is now to be considered as the self-acquired property of the new owners of the individual shares.

In what circumstances can a person claim right on the property of the grandfather?

A person can claim his/her share in the property of the grandfather only if it is a part of the ancestral property. A property ceases to be a part of the ancestral property if it is partitioned. In such scenarios, a person has no claim on the property as his/her father owns the property as his self-acquired property and thus has all the right to will the property to whomsoever he wishes.

Who will have the right to property if the grandfather dies intestate?

If there is no will, the property will be passed on to the wife, son(s) and daughter(s) of the deceased as a way of natural succession. Grandchildren have no right to the ancestral property if their father is alive. If not, then they are eligible to receive the share of the property of their deceased father. Also, the property inherited by the wife and daughter of the deceased is considered to be their personal property and thus no one has any legal right over their shares of property.