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What is Hindu Succession Act | Intestate Wills

Updated: Aug 12

In India, the succession and wills are governed by the Indian Succession Act 1925. Succession can be broadly divided into two parts, first where the individual has left behind a valid and enforceable will and secondly where a person has died without leaving such a will. In case if an individual has died without leaving a will, for Hindus the Hindu Succession Act 1956 defines the procedure and for Muslims the Mohammedan Law.

The Hindu Succession Act 1956, deals with the matters of deceased dying intestate, meaning any individual who has died without making a will. According to the Hindu Succession Act 1956, the Act applies to any person who is a Hindu by religion and also to any person who is Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain.

Under Section 8, General rules of succession in the case of males: The property of a male Hindu dying intestate shall devolve according to the following: 1) Firstly, upon the heirs, being the relatives specified in class I of the Schedule;

2) Secondly, if there is no heir of class I, then upon the heirs, being the relatives specified in class II of the Schedule;

3) Thirdly, if there is no heir of any of the two classes, then upon the agnates of the deceased; and

4) Lastly, if there is no agnate, then upon the cognates of the deceased.


Note: For ancestral property, the procedure of allocation will be different. The succession rules are for a property that is owned by the intestate.

1) Class I heirs comprises people to whom the interest in the property shall devolve in the first instance upon the death of the intestate.


In terms of the distribution of the properties, section 10 explains the rule in detail.

  • The surviving sons and daughters and the mother of the intestate shall each take one share. Here all three parties are getting an equal share in the property.

  • The widow of the deceased shall take one share and if there is more than one widow all of them, collectively take one share.

  • The pre-deceased son widow and son, daughters will get equal portions, and the branch of his pre-deceased sons gets the same portion.

  • In the case of a predeceased son, his son and daughter would take the same share which their parents would have taken.

  • A predeceased daughter who is survived by a son or a daughter is to be allotted an equal share to that of a living daughter.

2) In the case, where no party of relative exists as mentioned in Class I. Then the property will be given to the heirs mentioned in Class II. The rule is that an heir in an earlier category excludes heirs in a later category. Further all heirs in one category take simultaneously per capita share.


3) Agnate: One person is said to be agnate of another if the two are related by blood or adoption wholly through males.


4) Cognate: One person is said to be cognate of another if the two are related by blood or adoption but not wholly through males. In the case of a female Hindu dying intestate, Section 15 lays down the general rule and Section 16 explains the rules in detail. Sec 15. (1) The property of a female Hindu dying intestate shall devolve according to the rules set out in section 16,—

(a) firstly, upon the sons and daughters (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter) and the husband;

(b) secondly, upon the heirs of the husband ;

(c) thirdly, upon the mother and father ;

(d) fourthly, upon the heirs of the father;


In the case of the female Hindu who has acquired the property from her father, but has no children or her predeceased son or daughter has no children. Then such property will devolve upon the heirs of her father. In case if she has acquired the property from her husband, father in law and there is a similar scenario as above, then such property will devolve upon the heirs of her husband.

When an individual can be disqualified from the will process? Under Section 25 in The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 Murderer disqualified.—A person who commits murder or abets the commission of murder shall be disqualified from inheriting the property of the person murdered, or any other property in furtherance of the succession to which he or she committed or abetted the commission of the murder. Under Section 26 in The Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Convert’s descendants disqualified If an individual has converted to another religion from being a Hindu, then he or her, their children and his descendants shall be disqualified from inheriting the property of any of their Hindu relatives. Unless such children or descendants are Hindus at the time when the succession opens.


What if there are no heirs or after related family members:? In such case, under section 29, Failure of heirs: If an intestate has left no heir qualified to succeed to his or her property in accordance with the provisions of this Act, such property shall devolve on the Government, and the Government shall take the property subject to all the obligations and liabilities to which an heir would have been subjected.



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