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Understanding Inheritance law for daughters in India

by Godrej Properties Limited

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India's property and inheritance laws come with gender bias, disadvantaging women in various ways. However, post-independence reforms and changing perspectives have initiated a slow transformation in inheritance rights for women in India despite the absence of a Uniform Civil Code.

What is the Inheritance Act of India? 

The "Inheritance Act" in India includes a range of legal provisions, such as the Hindu Succession Act, Muslim Personal Law, and Indian Succession Act, which not only regulate inheritance and succession based on religious affiliations and personal beliefs but also address gender-specific aspects. These laws ensure equitable distribution of assets among legal heirs, with specific provisions designed to safeguard women's inheritance rights.

Property and inheritance laws for women under Hindu law

Let us understand the inheritance laws under the Hindu law.

Property rights of a daughter

Recent amendments in Hindu law have significantly improved women's status. Daughters now inherit maternal and paternal ancestral property on par with sons, sharing the same responsibilities as coparceners. They can also seek maintenance and shelter if widowed, divorced, or deserted and gain complete control over any gifted or bequeathed property upon adulthood.

Property rights of a wife

Under Hindu Succession Law, married women have full ownership rights over their personal property, with the freedom to sell, gift, or dispose of it as they choose. In property divisions, wives receive an equal share. In the unfortunate event of their husband's death, they inherit an equal share of his assets, along with their children and mother-in-law.

Property rights for other female relatives

Property rights for other female relatives are as follows:

  • Mothers, classified as Class I heirs, inherit an equal share of their deceased son's assets.
  • Sisters, recognised as Class II heirs, can claim their deceased brother's property only if no Class I heirs are present.
  • Daughters-in-law have limited property rights over their parents-in-law's assets.
  • Divorced women can seek maintenance and alimony but have no legal claim to their ex-husband's property.

Inheritance rights for women under Christian law

Under Christian law, daughters inherit both parental properties equally with their siblings. A wife is entitled to maintenance from her husband, and her inheritance depends on whether there are children. A mother is not considered a dependent and is not entitled to maintenance but may inherit a portion if the deceased has no child. 

Inheritance rights for women under Islamic law

Islamic Law, guided by Sharia, outlines gender-specific rules for inheritance:

  • Daughters inherit half as much as sons.
  • Wives have ownership rights and are entitled to maintenance.
  • A widow inherits one-fourth of her husband's assets (one-eighth if there are children).
  • A mother is entitled to maintenance and inherits one-sixth of her deceased child's assets.

The final word

Recent amendments and evolving judgments have provided women with greater legal rights in property and inheritance. Women must be aware of these rights to prevent any unlawful deprivation of their assets.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the property rights of daughters under Hindu Law?

Ans: Daughters under Hindu Law now inherit ancestral property, both maternal and paternal, on par with sons. They share the same liabilities, and on adulthood, daughters gain complete control over any property or assets gifted or bequeathed to them.

2. Do daughters-in-law have rights to their parents-in-law's property under Hindu Law?

Ans: Daughters-in-law have limited rights over their parents-in-law's property, whether ancestral or self-acquired. Their rights are dependent on their husband's inheritance and share.


 

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