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 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 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.

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.

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Rights on mother’s property after her death

Who inherits 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 the 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 the partition of 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.

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