Legal Heir

Law Inheritance

Inheritance is explained as the property provided to a successor following the death of a family member or relative. The right of inheritance is the transfer of property, debt, duties, and ownership to another person on the death of an individual.

The rights of legal heirs subsequent to the death of a property’s owner are clearly explained in the Indian Constitution by way of numerous laws. Law Inheritance could very loosely be explained as the transfer of property to the successor on the death of a family member. Inadequate knowledge regarding inheritance rights in India is the main reason for family partition, and it becomes significant to recognise the inheritance rights of a legal heir in the country.

There are two ways by which successors get property in inheritance, such as:

Through will (testamentary succession): The individual who creates a will is recognised as the testator, and the individual in whose favour the will is created is referred to as the legatee.

Through the laws of intestate succession: If the death of an individual occurs without the formation of a will, then the transfer of property takes place in accordance with the laws of intestate succession.

Property Inheritance Law

There are the following two situations in which inheritance is dealt with in India:

As per the Indian Succession Act 1925, it is applicable to testamentary succession of Hindus, that is, property transfer through a will. Owned property of a person could be transferred to any other person he desires through the formation of a will.

As per personal inheritance laws that possess a religious undertone, they are applicable when a will is not created, such as in the case of intestate succession. As per personal laws, in India, there is the Hindu Succession Act 1956 and the Muslim Personal Laws (Shariat) Application Act 1937.

Types of Inheritance

There are numerous forms of property that could be inherited, such as ancestral property and self-acquired property. In this, “ancestral property” is referred to as the property that was inherited through a deceased person by three or more generations. While self-acquired property is the property that was purchased by the deceased during his or her lifetime,

Moreover, property could be movable or immovable in nature.

Discussion About Will

As per the Indian Succession Act 1925, a will is defined as a legal document that includes particular information, such as the name of the person or persons who would acquire, manage, and avail benefits from the estate of the owner subsequent to his or her death. Moreover, a will is a legal document created by the estate’s owner, known as the testator. 

This document contained information regarding the distribution of the assets and possessions of the testator. At the time of the drafting of the will, it is essential to appoint an executor for the administration of the estate and all interests, who is normally a lawyer, demonstrating the will of the deceased. 

In this will, there is information on the proportion of asset distribution inherited through the child. The certified copy of the will is recognised as probate, which is considered evidence of the authority of an heir over a property.

Who Could Form a Will

A will could be created by a competent individual who is over the age of 18 and of sound mind. Thus, will cannot be created by a minor.

Legal Heir

A legal heir in India is a person who obtains the property of ancestors by will or by law. It is very important to ascertain the legal heir for each person owning a property, as they are considered the successor for property claims and insurance coverage.

There are several laws that define the legal heir of a person, such as Hindu Law, Muslim Law, Christian Law, Parsi Law, and others, and according to the categories specified in these laws, the legal heir of a person is determined.

Rights of Widows

In the ancestral property, there is no inheritance right possessed by the wife. Thus, a widow does not have any right to the ancestral property of her husband. A widow falls under the legal heir category in class one as per Hindu Law, and thus she has right to the self-acquired property of her husband, but in the ancestral property, she does not have any right. Additionally, in the property of her son, a widowed mother possesses inheritance rights.

Rights of Children

In India, according to the laws of succession, a son has a right to the property of his father and grandfather by birth alone. Additionally, the son has the same rights to the ancestral property as his father. In cases of self-acquired property or separate property, if a person died without forming a will, then his son, sister, living mother, brother, and grandmother have similar rights in the succession of property.

Rights of Daughters

In India, before 2005, rights in ancestral property were only provided to unmarried daughters, but subsequent to 2005, equivalent rights and duties were provided to daughters that were granted to sons.

Rights of Grandchildren

A grandson and granddaughter possess an equivalent right with their father in their ancestral property. In cases of the self-acquired or separate property of the grandfather, a grandson acquires inheritance rights only in situations where the death of the father occurred before the grandfather.

Rights of Adopted Children

In the case of adopted children, inheritance rights are almost identical to those of a natural-born child. Additionally, it is required to note that no inheritance rights are provided to a child over this biological family. Though if they get a property prior to adoption, the property would continue to be in his/her name only.

Rights of Children Born in a Live-in Relationship

In the legal case of Vidyadhari v. Sukhrana Bai, a child born into a live-in relationship was recognised as a legal heir in 2008.

Documents Needed for Getting a Certificate for the Legal Heir

Following are the documents needed for getting a certificate of legal heir:

  1.   Name of deceased person
  2.   The relationship and applicant’s name with the deceased individual
  3.   signature of the applicant
  4.   Residential address of the applicant.

Conclusion

As mentioned above, inheritance is basically a convention of transferring properties, debts, rights, duties, and titles to the legal heir of a person upon their death. This could be performed by will or the law of succession. The norms of inheritance vary among communities and religions.

In the current inflation scenario, the prices of properties are increasing at a significant pace, and thus it becomes important for the legal heirs to secure the property prior to and following the death of the legal owner of the property. Vakilsearch provides knowledge and information that legal owners must fulfil in order to get ownership rights in a property.

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