Concept of Ancestral Property or self-acquired property

Last Updated at: Aug 11, 2020
ancestral property or self-acquired property
Important facts about ancestral property
The Tamil Nadu Govt promulgated an ordinance in May 2020 to acquire possession of late former CM Jayalalithaa’s ‘Veda Nilayam’ at Poes Garden. But, Deepa Jayakumar, the legal heir of Jayalalithaa said that she will legally challenge the Government’s move and get her right to acquire her ancestral property.


The senior-most member of the Hindu family is known as Karta. The other members of the family are known as Coparcener. It is a relation to the father who can offer funeral cake. The concept of Coparcener has both spiritual and legal aspects. Coparcener is the person who acquires interest on property right from birth. Coparcenary owns the unity, possession and ownership of the title. The Coparcenary property is divided into Ancestral property and Joint Hindu Property which is not ancestral. Let us see the ancestral property meaning, the difference between ancestral property and inherited property, what happens when ancestral property becomes self acquired, what is coparcenary property and so on. Get to know how to claim ancestral property and ancestral property law in this blog.

What is Ancestral Property?

The property which is inherited up to three generations is referred to as ancestral property. This is a part of the coparcenary property. That is the property descends from father, father’s father, and great grandfather. Any property inherited other than the members/relations are known as separate property. Only male members have rights over the ancestral property. The Hindu Succession Act, amended in 2005, allows women to enjoy equal rights to the property. Now women have the same right as men over the ancestral property. Once the division/ ancestral property partition happens, all members will get an equal share from the property. The following are the incidents of ancestral property.

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Incidents of Ancestral Property

  1. The ancestral property should be four generations old.
  2. The property should not have been divided by the members. When the division/partition happens, it becomes the self-acquired property and not ancestral property.
  3. The person has the right over the property right from birth.
  4. The ancestral property rights are controlled by per stripes and not by per capita.
  5. The shares are first determined for each generation and subdivided for the successive generation.

Classification of Ancestral Property

  • Property from paternal ancestors:

Here, the Hindu male inherits the property from his father, father’s father, father’s father’s father. In other words, property acquired from any one of the three immediate paternal ancestors. Such property is considered as ancestral property.

  • Property from maternal ancestors:

Any ancestral property inherited from the maternal ancestors is termed as separate property and not ancestral property.  

  • Property from the females:

Any property inherited by the females of the house doesn’t come under the ancestral property. The property brought by women is considered as her separate property.

  • Property obtained through gift/Will from paternal ancestors:

When a property is obtained by gift/Will from his ancestors, it can be either considered as ancestral or self-acquired property. It depends on the intention of the ancestors as mentioned in the deed/Will.  If the ancestors make a condition that the inheritor should take the property for the benefit of the family, then it is ancestral property. If no condition is made, it is considered separate property.

  • Other property:

Any property which is bought from the income of the ancestral property is known as ancestral property. So anything purchased with the assistance of ancestral property is also called as ancestral property. The children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren possess an interest over the income and accretion even before their birth.

Sec 26 of Hindu Succession Act provides that, if a person is converted into other religion, he still has rights over ancestral property. The person has the birthright over such property, so the conversion cannot stop from claiming the property. The illegitimate child cannot claim any rights over ancestral property. Coparcenary property refers to a property inherited almost up to four generations of members from the Hindu joint family. Whereas ancestral property refers to that property inherited by the ancestors.

Under Muslim law, there is no concept of coparcener property, so ancestral property doesn’t exist. The Christian law is governed by the Indian Succession Act and there are no provisions for the ancestral property. These both laws can inherit their property either by Will/gift or after their death the legal heir can inherit their property.