Synopsis–According to succession laws, a Hindu male’s father is not an immediate legal heir. Here’s a look at who are considered legal heirs of a Hindu male who dies intestate.
When a Hindu male dies intestate (that is, without a will), his assets will be transferred to the immediate legal heirs. In the case of a married Hindu male, the assets (such as property, mutual funds, bank accounts etc.) will be given to his widow, his children, and other immediate legal heirs in such manner as provided in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 .
Other than the widow and children, in the eyes of the law, who are considered as legal heirs? One’s first guess would be person’s father, right? Well, that is wrong. According to succession laws, a Hindu male’s father is not an immediate legal heir.
Also, did you know that there can be circumstances where even the legal heirs will not be eligible to inherit the assets of the Hindu male? That is right.
Want more answers to this complex estate planning topic? Nidhi Arora, Director, PDS legal answers a few important questions about legal heirs of a Hindu male who has passed away without a will.
Who is the immediate legal heir/s of a Hindu male who dies intestate?
The ‘immediate’ legal heirs of a Hindu male who has died intestate are called class 1 heirs. These include:
(v) Son of a pre-deceased son;
(vi) Daughter of a pre-deceased son;
(vii) Son of a pre-deceased daughter;
(viii) Daughter of a pre-deceased daughter;
(ix) Widow of a pre-deceased son;
(x) Son of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son;
(xi) Daughter of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son;
(xii) Widow of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son;
(xiii) Son of a pre-deceased daughter of a pre-deceased daughter;
(xiv) daughter of a pre-deceased daughter of a pre-deceased daughter ;
(xv) daughter of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased daughter; and
(xvi) daughter of a pre-deceased daughter of a pre-deceased son.
The assets, such as property etc., first devolve upon the class 1 heirs who take their shares simultaneously and to the exclusion of all other heirs. The property devolves upon the class 2 heirs, agnates (a relative whose connection is traceable exclusively through males) and then to cognates (relative whose connection is traceable not wholly through males), in each case in the absence of any heir in the immediately preceding class. Cousins from the father’s side is one of the examples of agnates and cousins from the mother’s side is one of the examples of cognates.
If a Hindu male dies intestate, will the father be considered as a legal heir?
The father of a Hindu male dying intestate is a class 2 legal heir. The assets only devolve upon him if there are no class 1 heirs present.
Is there a possibility that a class 1 heir might not be able to inherit the assets?
A legal heir is disqualified if he/she commits murder or abets the commission of murder from inheriting the assets of the person murdered, or any other assets in furtherance of the succession to which he/ she committed or abetted the commission of the murder. Further, the children of a person who has converted to another religion are also disqualified.
What if a Hindu male is divorced, will the ex-wife still be considered as a legal heir?
The ex-wife is not considered as a legal heir to the property.
What if the parents are divorced and the mother remarries. In such a case, will the mother still be considered a legal heir?
The divorce or remarriage of a mother is not a bar to her succeeding as a legal heir to her son.
Will the son/daughter still be considered as a legal heir if he/she is evicted by the Hindu male?
The eviction of a son/ daughter by a Hindu male from his property does not affect their inheritability. The son/ daughter will still be the class 1 legal heir of the Hindu male if he dies intestate and will inherit the ancestral as well as the self-acquired property of the Hindu male. However, the Hindu male could disinherit them from the self-acquired property by drawing a will to this effect. They will still be legal heirs to inherit their share from the ancestral property.
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