What is the law governing the distribution of a father's property in India?
Team SoOLEGAL 28 Aug 2023

What is the law governing the distribution of a father's property in India?

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 governs the division of a father's property after his death in India. This law covers the allocation of property in cases of intestate succession, i.e., when the father dies without leaving a will, and it applies to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs.

According to the Hindu Succession Act, a Hindu father's property is divided equally among his Class I heirs, who comprise his widow, children (including daughters), and mother.

If any of the Class I heirs are not alive or passed away before the father, their share will be distributed to their own lawful heirs. For example, if a daughter outlives her father, her children are entitled to her half of the property.

If no Class I heirs are present the property will transfer to Class II heirs, which comprise the father's father, brothers, and sisters. If any of the Class II heirs are not alive or have died before the father, their share will be distributed to their own lawful heirs.

It is vital to remember that if the father has left a Will, the terms of the Will will control the division of his property.

Son's Legal Rights in His Father's Property

The Hindu Succession Law divides property for the purpose of succession into ancestral and self-acquired property, and the rights associated with each differ.

·       Rights of a son if the property is inherited

As a son is a joint owner of ancestral property, inheritance rights to sons accrue from the time of birth. A son has the right to file a partition claim for his rightful share of the property throughout his father's lifetime. Furthermore, he may sell his half of the ancestral property to any other party prior to the legal partition of the property.

·       Son's rights if the property is self-acquired

In the instance of self-acquired property, the father has the right to give or will the property to whomever he sees suitable, and the daughter has no right to object. Thus, if the property is a self-acquired property of the father and he has gifted or willed such property to someone by his own free will, without coercion, undue influence, fraud, or misrepresentation, no right to the property can be claimed.

Legal Rights of a Daughter in Her Father's Ancestral Property

Previously, only male members of the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) had a claim to the ancestral property. However, with the change to the Hindu Succession Act in 2005, a Hindu female has the same entitlement to ancestral property as a Hindu male. Women were likewise made coparceners in the HUF establishment by the aforementioned legislation.

Self-acquired property, on the other hand, has been characterised as property obtained by an individual from his own means or by any property earned through his share in ancestral property. An owner of a self-acquired property has complete freedom to dispose of the property in any way he sees fit, and the legal heirs have no alternative.


The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, which took effect on September 9, 2005, repealed laws that were discriminatory towards Hindu daughters' inheritance rights and granted them the same coparcenary rights as sons. In addition, if a married Hindu daughter is deserted, divorced, or widowed, she has the right to stay in her father's house.

Furthermore, until recently, the rights provided to daughters under the 2005 amendment were thought to apply solely in circumstances where a woman's father was alive on September 9, 2005 (the date the amendment went into effect). This meant that women whose fathers died before September 9, 2005 were denied the coparcenary rights as stated in the 2005 amendment.

Following several divergent opinions within the Indian judiciary on the subject of retrospective applicability of the amendment, the Supreme Court recently in August 2020 brought the matter to a quick conclusion making the amendment applicable retrospectively to all cases, regardless of the date of 09.09.2005. This final phase has totally eliminated any distinction between the rights of daughters and sons to their father's property under the Act.

Procedure for distributing Father's Property among heirs:

The procedure for dividing family property in India is determined by the individual circumstances and the applicable legislation. The following are the general procedures for dividing family property in India:

·       The first stage is to identify the family's ancestral and self-acquired property. Ancestral property is property that has been passed down via generations without being divided among family members. Self-acquired property is property acquired by a family member by their own work, inheritance, or gift.

·       If family members cannot agree on how to divide property, a partition suit may be brought in court. The partition lawsuit tries to divide the property among the rightful heirs. Depending on the nature of property and state rules, the suit may be filed in a civil or revenue court.

·       The court can require a valuation of the property to ascertain its fair market value.

·       The court may distribute the property among the rightful heirs in proportion to their part of the property. The property may be divided physically or by paying monetary compensation to the legal heirs who do not obtain physical possession of the property.The following step is to identify the family's legal heirs. The surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased family member, in addition to any other family members who may have a legal claim to the property, are considered legal heirs.

·       Once the property has been divided, the legal heirs must register the property in their names.


While aiming to ensure the right to equality, the Supreme Court of India recently ruled in Vineeta Sharma vs Rakesh Sharma (2020) 9 SCC 1 that a daughter coparcener would have equal HUF (Hindu Undivided Family) Properties or equal right to family property by birth, regardless of whether the father, i.e. a coparcener, died before September 9, 2005 (the day when the Parliament recognised a daughter's right to equal coparcenary as a son by amending the Hindu Succession Act 1956). The Three-Judge Bench stated that the daughter's right was granted by her birth and would be unaffected by the date of her father's death. This judgement clarified the legality and extent of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, as amended by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005.

 It is important to note that the procedure for family property division may vary depending on the specific circumstances and the applicable laws. For more information, you can contact us via email at or +91 9810929455.

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