Property rights of a son on mother’s self-earned property – Issues and the Law

Property rights of a son on mother’s self-earned property

There has been such a massive change in the social milieu in our country that now issues arise regarding a mother’s property too – reflective of the fact that women have shares in the family property now.

In further lines of succession of property owned by a woman, a son can claim a share in his mother’s self-earned property only if the mother wants. But if the mother dies intestate, the issue of claim arises.

Distribution of property among family members of the deceased when the person has died intestate has always been a challenging task.  The issue becomes more complicated when the property consists of both ancestral and self-earned property.

Also Read: The married daughters’ right in mother’s self-acquired property

Self-earned or Self-acquired property refers to the property:

  • made by a person by his resources or
  • which he has inherited under the law of succession or
  • acquired through Will or
  • which has come to him after partition.

How an individual deals with self-earned property:

  • The Law gives an individual the full right to deal with the self-earned property in any manner that he pleases; whether it is transferring the property by way of gift, sale or a Will.
  • A person can dispose of the self-earned property to the exclusion of his heirs. The entire property can be gifted to a third person/stranger.
  • No legal heir can claim any right over the said property till the time the owner of the property is alive.
  • The legal heirs can exert their right only if the owner dies intestate.

Personal and Statutory Laws governing property rights:

The right of the children in the property of their mother largely depends upon the personal law and statutory law governing such rights.

In India, the personal laws are related mostly to the religion of the person.  For Hindus, Muslims and persons of other faiths, there are different statutory and personal laws.

 Under Hindu Law, a woman is the absolute owner of the property which she acquires by any means: gift, will, inheritance. This property becomes her self- acquired/self-earned property. She can choose to transfer the entire property to any person other than her husband and her children.

Also Read: Gift Deed- Implications, Interpretations and Information

Can a son claim on the self-earned property of his mother?

During the lifetime of the mother, a son cannot claim any share in her self-acquired property.  

However, if a Hindu female (mother) dies intestate, the property devolves among legal heirs as per the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act. The legal heirs are

  • Sons Daughters (if predeceased, their children) Husband

The children and husband of the deceased woman (mother) have equal inheritance rights.  Other legal heirs follow if the first order is missing, i.e. a woman dies leaving no children, no grandchildren and no husband, then the legal heirs are:-

  • Mother and fatherHeirs of fatherHeirs of mother

In the case of Hindus,

  • A son can, therefore, claim a right in the self-earned property of his mother if the mother has died intestate.
  • Both son and daughter have equal rights.
  • Even the share of ancestral property falling to the mother after the partition of the property becomes her absolute property and is treated as her self- acquired property.

For Muslim mothers,

  • It is the personal laws which govern the right of her son in the self-earned property.
  • Under Muslim law also, a woman becomes the absolute owner of the property which she has acquired by any means.
  • Generally, there is no distinction like the ancestral or self-acquired property under Muslim Law.
  • The children of a Muslim mother cannot claim any right during her lifetime.  Inheritance opens only on the death of the person.

Also Read: Can NRIs buy property jointly with resident Indian?

For persons of other faiths, the right of the children in the property of the mother is governed by the Indian Succession Act. The relatives of the woman and her children are given preference over her husband and his relatives.

The issue of a son’s claim would therefore largely depend on the personal laws governing that particular segment and the line of succession.

Can NRIs buy property jointly with resident Indian?

Joint Property - Can NRIs buy property jointly with resident Indian

Some things in this world are still going fine jointly! Take property ownership in India, for instance – especially when we live in a country where the property is still one of the most coveted ways to connect with your roots.

For NRIs, purchasing a property in India is much more than an investment opportunity. It is a way of seeking connections to the native place – and also to find a ‘home’ for oneself. 

It helps if the property ownership is joint with a known relative or friend who is a resident Indian. 

Read: Saving yourself from fraud while buying or selling a property

What do you keep in mind while buying property jointly?

  • As with other things, the purchase of property by NRIs in India is also governed by guidelines issued by RBI. 
  • While the RBI has issued General guidelines for purchase of property by NRIs also, in some cases, special permission from RBI or approval from Government is required before making an investment in the immovable property by NRI.
  • RBI allows NRIs to jointly own a property with another NRI or a resident Indian. 
  • However, in cases where the resident Indian is otherwise ineligible to buy property, then the NRI will also not be allowed to buy the property with that resident Indian (irrespective of the financial contribution of the other person). 

Remember:

  • Residences or commercial property can be bought by NRIs freely. 
  • There is no restriction on the number of properties that can be purchased. 
  • There is no requirement of obtaining any specific permission in such cases and also no need to send any information to RBI for this purchase. 
  • There is no need to file any document with RBI in this regard. 
  • In case the interested NRI is unable to come to India for completing the property purchase, the same process can be carried out by giving a special POA (Power of Attorney) to another person. 

But,

  • For the purchase of any agricultural property or a farmhouse or plantation, NRIs need to apply for specific permission from RBI. 
  • However, NRIs can inherit the same from any resident Indian.

Read: Transfer of Property on the basis of Registered or Unregistered Will

What does the FEMA say?

  • There are no specific guidelines under FEMA for purchase of property by NRI jointly with resident Indians.  
  • An NRI is allowed to sell or gift any immovable property to any resident Indian. 
  • Any property can be gifted to NRI by an NRI other than agricultural property, plantation or a farmhouse.
  • The restrictions which apply to NRIs for purchase of agricultural property, farmhouse or plantation continue even if it is a joint purchase.  
  • The transactions have to be routed through proper banking channels under FEMA and RBI guidelines.
  • For all purposes of investment in real estate, NRIs are treated at par with the PIOs.

Read: How to obtain probate of a Will

What if a person becomes an NRI after buying property in India?

  • In case an individual has bought property in India and acquires an NRI status after that, he can continue holding the property
  • All taxes will apply to the property as per the laws of the country

So Yes! Relax NRIs – You CAN buy property jointly with resident Indians or other NRIs. Make sure you adhere to RBI and FEMA rules regarding the same. 

Rights on mother’s property after her death

Rights on mother's property

Right to property is governed by personal and statutory laws.

Once the mother (a woman) acquires any property through will or gift or by inheritance or it a self-acquired property, she becomes the absolute owner of the same. 

Under Hindu Law, the property of a mother devolves as per the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (the Act). The Act applies to intestate succession.

Read More: Property rights of a wife after husband’s death

According to Section 15 of the Act, the following persons inherit a woman’s property after her death:

  • Her children
  • Children of predeceased children
  • Husband
  • Mother  and Father of the deceased mother
  • Heirs of husband
  • Heirs of father and mother

The order of preferences is as follows:

  • Firstly, the children, children of predeceased children and husband
  • Secondly, heirs of the husband
  • Thirdly, her mother and father
  • Fourthly, heirs of her father
  • Lastly, heirs of her mother

Thus if a mother dies intestate, under Hindu law, her children, children of predeceased children and her husband have an equal right to the property. In their absence, the property is inherited by other heirs as per order of preference.

Right to mother’s property also includes right to the share of the mother in her father’s property, and children of a predeceased mother have a right to claim the  deceased mother’s share in  the property of her father: –

Read More: Land Kabza- What to do?

After amendment of the 1956 Act in the year 2005, daughters are coparceners and have equal rights as a son, in the property of their father. Thus if a daughter (who is a mother also) dies before the partition of her father’s ancestral property, the children of such pre-deceased daughter have a right in the ancestral property of their maternal grandfather and can claim partition.

However, during the lifetime of the mother, only the mother has a right to claim her share in this property of her father and as a son or daughter of such mother, the person can file a suit for partition only through power of attorney executed by mother in favour of her children.

In case of self acquired property of the father (i.e. maternal grandfather), if such father dies intestate, the son/daughter of predeceased daughter of such father are included in Class I heirs given in the schedule of the 1956 Act and have a right to claim their share.

After the partition of property in which a woman (mother) has a share, she becomes the absolute owner of her share:

Read More: Settlement deed between brother and sister residing abroad

Once the share of a daughter has been transferred to her after partition of the property of her father, she becomes the absolute owner of her share. 

If a mother makes a will, the property bequeaths as per the will, and if the mother dies intestate, the laws of inheritance are applied as per the 1956 Act.

Distribution of the mother’s property between her son and married daughter:

Married daughter has equal right in the property of her mother as the son, and in case the mother dies intestate, the married daughter inherits her share equally with the son as per the Act of 1956.

Under Muslim Law, since the law is not codified, rights on the property of the mother are governed by personal laws.

For faiths other than Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Muslims, devolution of mother’s property after her death is governed by India Succession Act, 1925. Generally, relatives of mother inherit and have priority over her husband and husband’s relatives.

Property rights of a wife after husband’s death

Property rights of a wife after husband's death

Many women are not clear about their rights in the property of their husbands. The rights of a wife in her husband’s property after his death depend upon:

  • The kind of joint ownership of husband and wife
  • nature of property of the husband – self-acquired or ancestral

Joint ownership

In case of property jointly acquired by both husband and wife during marriage, the nature of ownership determines the rights of a wife in the property after the death of the husband. The joint ownership can be: 

Tenancy in common

There is no right of survivorship. When one co-owner dies, his share goes to the legal heirs.

Joint Tenancy

When one co-owner dies, his share passes on to the surviving co-owners. 

Tenancy by entirety

Tenancy by entirety is a special kind of joint tenancy which takes place only between husband and wife. In this kind of ownership, both the spouses cannot pass their share in the property to a third person without the consent of others. This tenancy can be terminated either by mutual agreement, legal separation or by the death of one of the spouse.

Presumption of ownership:

Unless specifically stated in the document of property, the law presumes tenancy in common between the co-owners. However, in case of a married couple, the presumption is for the tenancy by entirety unless otherwise specified in the deed.

It is always advisable to disclose the nature of the ownership in the title document to avoid legal hassles later.

Read: Do grandchildren have a right to their grandfather’s property?

Distribution of property to wife and other legal heirs:

A. If the joint ownership is –

  • Tenancy by entirety or joint tenancy with survivorship-then after the death of the husband the property goes to the wife.
  • Tenancy in common – the legal heirs of the deceased husband will become co-owners and the share in the property will devolve as per provisions of Hindu Succession Act or personal laws or India Succession Act as applicable.

B. In case of joint property of husband and wife : If the fact is established that

  • the property is acquired by the husband but held in joint names- the entire property devolves among legal heirs including wife as per the applicable law.
  • the property is purchased by the wife with her earnings alone and held in joint names -the entire property belongs to wife.

the property is acquired by the husband and wife together with both having contributed towards the purchase, the property is divided as per the contributions made and then from the share of the husband, the wife will get her share as a legal heir as per applicable law.

Read: Can a father give his property to one son?

Self-acquired and ancestral property:

  • Under Hindu Law:  the wife has a right to inherit the property of her husband only after his death if he dies intestate. Hindu Succession Act, 1956 describes legal heirs of a male dying intestate and the wife is included in the Class I heirs, and she inherits equally with other legal heirs.

           If the property is:

Self-acquired-    If husband dies intestate, wife inherits as Class I heir

Ancestral –     Wife is entitled to get a share out of the share of her husband’s property, but she has no right to claim partition. She gets her share as class I legal heir when the partition of the ancestral property is affected.

Read: Division of property between brother and sister after father’s death

For people of faiths other than Hindus– the succession to property is governed by personal laws or The Indian Succession Act.

  • In the case of Christians, the property is considered as self-acquired despite the mode of acquisition and wife has a right to the property of deceased husband along with other legal heirs.
  • Muslim law also recognises the right of the wife in the property of the deceased husband – generally one-fourth of the property if no children and one eighth if children are there.

Division of property between brother and sister after father’s death

Division of property between brother and sister after father death

Under Hindu Law, brother and sister are at par when it comes to the devolution of property of a father dying intestate.

When a Hindu male dies intestate (without leaving a will), his property devolves upon the legal heirs as per Section 8 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The legal heirs are as follows:

  • Class I heirs
  • Class II heirs (if no one in class I)
  • Agnates (if no one in class II)
  • Cognates (if no one in agnates)

Class I heirs as mentioned in the Schedule of the Act are:

  • Son
  • Daughter
  • Widow
  • Mother
  • Son of a pre-deceased son
  • Daughter of a pre-deceased son
  • Son of a pre-deceased daughter
  • Daughter of a pre-deceased daughter
  • Widow of a pre-deceased son
  • Son of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son
  • Daughter of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son
  • Widow of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son
  • Son of a predeceased daughter of a predeceased daughter
  • Daughter of a deceased daughter of a predeceased daughter
  • Daughter of a predeceased son of a predeceased daughter
  • Daughter of a predeceased daughter of a predeceased son

There are 16 class I heirs. Eleven are females, and 5 are males.

Rules for distribution of property among brother and sister (both are class I heirs):

  • Class I heirs get their share simultaneously and to the exclusion of others.As per the rules, son and daughter (brother and sister) are entitled to equal share in the property.

e.g. a father dies leaving behind a mother, a widow and one son and two daughters, his property would be divided into five equal parts, and each of these legal heirs will get one-fifth share.

Stepson or stepdaughter: Daughter and son must be natural or adopted children. Stepchildren are not included in the definition of son and daughter under the Act.

  • Children of predeceased son or daughter will take between them one share, e.g. If the daughter is predeceased and has two children, then in the above example, the property is divided into five parts, and one-fifth share of the deceased daughter will be shared further by these two children equally.

Ancestral or self-acquired property

The daughter (sister) has equal right as a son (brother) in the ancestral as well as the self-acquired property of the father.

Under Hindu law, there is a concept of coparcenary. It is a small unit within a joint Hindu family and consists of male lineal descendants’ of four generations with the eldest male member as the head and his male lineal descendants as coparceners. After the amendment of 2005 in the Act, the daughters are considered as coparceners and have equal right in the ancestral property as a son.

Marital Status: Marital Status of the daughter (sister) makes no difference.

Date of birth of a daughter (sister): The Amendment of 2005 came into effect on 09.09.2005. The daughters born before or after this date are considered as coparceners.

If the daughter is not living on 09.09.2005, her children are entitled to get a share in ancestral property.

If the father is not living on 09.09.2005, the daughter cannot seek partition of ancestral property.

Testamentary succession: However, in case of self-acquired property of the father, he can make a will of the same as per his desire, and the property bequeaths to the person named in the will.

In the case of ancestral property, a Will can be made by a father once he has acquired his share.