Property Disputes among Siblings

Property Disputes among Siblings

Property disputes are common among siblings. The property becomes a bone of contention among family members irrespective of the financial status of the family. There is a desire to get the maximum share if there is a distribution of family property

Apart from greed, one other cause of dispute of property could be the lack of knowledge and clarity about the property inheritance laws.

In India, there is a strong culture of holding the property jointly within a family. But once the eldest member dies or there are differences in the joint family business, the problem of distribution of property arises. 

The main question is – are siblings entitled to the property as being the legal heir of the deceased or as per the tenor of his Will?

The dispute among siblings mostly relates to the share each will get and the settlement of debts and liabilities. The legal advice of an expert always helps in such matters.

Read: Share of a brother in deceased brother’s property

Intestate Succession:

When a person dies without a Will, his property is distributed as per inheritance laws.  In India, the inheritance of property is governed by:

  • Personal laws
  • Customary laws
  • Legislative laws

There is a lot of ambiguity about personal and customary laws.  

We have The Hindu Succession Act and the Indian Succession Act, but the same applies to a section of the population only. Even under the codified law, there is a difference in property distribution rules if the property is ancestral or self-acquired. 

Under the Hindu Succession Act, a person/owner is free to deal with his self-acquired property. The ancestral property cannot be distributed as per free will. The coparceners (a small unit within a family) have a birthright in it. 

Brothers and sisters are entitled to equal shares in the property of their mother or father under Hindu law. While considering inheritance, the term son and daughter under Hindu law includes adopted son and daughter but not stepchildren. Thus siblings who are stepbrother and sister are not entitled to share in the property of the father.

Read: Married Woman’s Share In Father’s Property

Property dispute and the Will

Will is a legal document wherein the testator expresses his desire for distribution of his wealth after his death.

Even if there is a Will, property dispute can arise among the siblings. The beneficiaries (siblings) are dissatisfied with the tenor of the Will. The distribution of property seems improper to them.

A Will can be challenged on aspects like improper execution, fraud, forgery, undue influence etc. The parties level allegations against each other and try to prove that the Will is invalid.

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

Property dispute and partition

It is not easy to decide the share of each member in case of joint family property. It is better to have a family settlement deed (an agreement based on mutual understanding). A written agreement is preferable over verbal/oral agreement. Once the shares are decided, the property gets partitioned, and the siblings get their respective shares.

Property disputes are common among siblings but can be avoided with timely legal advice.

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