How to divide my mother’s property if she died without making a Will ?

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Q. By executing a will, my father gave all his assets and properties in favour of my mother. Recently my mother died without executing any will. How will be the property divided?

Hindu Succession Act 1956 (Act) under Section 15 states about general rules of succession with regard to Hindu females. Under The Indian Succession Act 1925 Section 2(h) defines Will as the legal declaration where the intention of the testator with regard to his property that he desires to be done after his death. Property under this Act includes both movable and immovable property owned and acquired by her in inheritance. It can be by partition or by gift or by purchase. This Act gave the Hindu Female to become an absolute owner of the property and could inherit equally with a male counterpart both in husband as well as father’s property.

If a female Hindu’s property who dies intestate will devolve as per the rules set out in Section 16 where firstly it will go the sons and daughter it also includes the children of any predeceased son or daughter and the husband. Here even though mother died without executing any Will the property shall devolve to the daughter/son.  Supreme Court had in one of its decision, set at rest the long drawn controversy related to inheritance of property which belonged to a Hindu married woman who died intestate held that her husband’s side cannot claim it if she had got the property from her mother’s side. Supreme Court relied upon Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956 and thus decided the matter. The court said Section 16 of the Act “evolves a new and uniform order of succession of property (by a female Hindu) and regulates the manner of its distribution”.

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Law commission of India had made three recommendations to amend Section 15 of Hindu Succession Act 1956 under its 207 Report.

  1. If a Hindu female had self-acquired property and she died intestate then the property should devolve to her heirs from the natal family.
  2. If a Hindu female had self-acquired property and she died intestate then it should devolve equally upon the heirs of her husband and also heirs of her natal family.
  3. If a Hindu female had self-acquired property and died intestate then it should devolve first upon the heirs of her husband. Although this amendment was suggested in as early as 2008 in public interest it is still pending with Union Law Ministry.
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by Sushma Javare.