Real estate due to the value attached behind it, is the root cause of many disputes and contentions. More so, when it comes to the properties that has been passed on from one generation to another. To add to it, the sector is also fraught with various legal terms which make comprehension difficult for the common man.
Ancestral Property is a frequently heard term in real estate talks but is often misunderstood by many. Often individuals mistake any inherited property for ancestral property. However, to be called as an ancestral property, the property needs to meet the qualification criteria on many more counts. When you know the logic and rules governing inheritances, you can not only be better informed of your rights but can also avoid frivolous disputes.
We bring you the important facts that you should know what qualifies as an ancestral property:
- Ancestral Property is an undivided property that has been passed on through four generations. The property should have belonged to your great grand-father and should have been passed on to your grandfather, father, and to you in its undivided form.
From an ancestral property that was passed on to your grandfather, he made equal shares for your father and his siblings. Your father passed on the same to you after his death, the property cannot be considered as ancestral anymore. Once it was divided the property would have been considered as a self-acquired property for your father.
- Non-divisibility is an important factor of any property qualifying as an ancestral property. If the property was equally distributed between the sons/daughters during any generation and you if you have inherited a piece of the same, it no longer qualifies as an ancestral property.
- The right to ancestral property is derived at birth, rather than at death for other kinds of property. A self-acquired property/other asset is passed on only on the death of the person. While your birth makes you eligible for your right on the ancestral property.
- If the property has been inherited through your mother, grandmother or uncles/aunts then the same cannot qualify as an ancestral property. However, a recent Supreme Court judgment has made it eligible for daughters to inherit/claim right in an ancestral property post 2005. This will apply only if the father is not dead before 2005. So, in future, ancestral properties inherited by mothers/grandmothers can be considered as ancestral property.
- A father can choose to exclude his son/daughter from his will and not give them a share in his self-acquired property, however the son/daughter (post 2005) cannot be excluded from their respective share in the ancestral property, as they earn that right by birth.
- The share of each generation is first determined, and the share of successive generations is further sub-divided from the share.
- Self -acquired property can also become ancestral if it is thrown into the common pool and enjoyed by others.
- Ancestral property cannot be sold without consent of other members who also hold right to the property
- These are the provisions under Hindu Succession Act 1956 (as amended in 2005) and these applies to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.
- Christians are governed by Indian Succession Act 1925 and are free to will their ancestral property. The same holds good for Muslims too. They are not bound to follow inheritance by birth.
The rules for ancestral and self-acquired property differ depending on the nature of property. It is always good to know of the rules before doing estate-planning of any nature.