16 – Features of Intestate Succession

Who will inherit my properties after me, and in what shares, depends on whether I am a man or a woman and what is my religious faith. If I am a Hindu woman, it depends also upon the source of my ownership, whether I am married, and whether I have children.

How is my property inherited after me by my heirs? When do they get it? Some principles apply to intestate succession. These are its features.

Features of intestate succession

1. Only heirs specified by law inherit.

Only those relatives will inherit my assets after me, who are indicated in the law that applies to me. We have seen earlier who inherits my assets.

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2. All heirs inherit.

All persons who are heirs according to the law will inherit.

I have a wife, married son and married daughter. All three will get equal share in my assets.

My son has taken a very large amount from me and constructed his own house. He will nevertheless inherit my house after me.

If I and my wife are separated and awaiting divorce, my wife will inherit after me if our divorce does not happen in my lifetime.

I am a Hindu. I was asked to leave my husband’s house after his death. I have been living with my parents for thirty years. My husband’s relatives will inherit the assets that I have earned from my own income.

3. All heirs inherit together.

All the heirs together become owners of each of my assets, whether they are old, young or children, parents or children, men or women.

4. Each heir gets his share in each of my assets.

None of my heirs can claim any particular asset as his. If one of them is actually holding any particular asset, others can claim their shares in that asset.

5. His share in each asset is undivided.

The share of each heir is stated in the law. Each heir takes that share in each asset. This share is undivided.

6. He gets all the rights over the asset that I had.

If I was absolute owner of any asset, my heir gets share in absolute ownership.

If I am a lessee, my heir gets share in leasehold rights.

If I am a lessor and not in possession of the asset, my heir becomes lessor and will not have actual possession of the asset.

If I have made a contract to purchase an asset, my heir will have share in my contractual rights.

If I have a house, and one of my children stays in it after me, she will be in actual possession. But other heirs will become entitled to joint possession of the house.

7. He gets these rights immediately after me.

Transfer of ownership does not wait. After me, each heir immediately gets ownership (of his share) in my assets. Recording his name in records relating to these assets may take time. He records his name as its owner.

8. He takes his share as a “tenant-in-common”.

The assets that my heir inherits devolve upon his heirs after him. They do not devolve upon other heirs who have inherited my property. This type of joint ownership is called ‘tenancy-in-common’.

It is important to know these features in order to decide whether to make a will.

I must make a will if I want make a change to any of these features.

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– Nilima Bhadbhade

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