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.
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 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.
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 father
- Heirs of father
- Heirs 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.
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.