Intestate Succession As Per The Hindu Succession Act,1956

The Hindu Succession Act,1956 applies if the intestate is Hindu,Buddhist,Jain or Sikh but doesn’t automatically include scheduled tribes.It also includes legitimate or illegitimate children,if one of his/her parents is Hindu,Buddhist,Jain or Sikh.It also includes converts and reconverts to these religions.

When a Hindu male dies intestate i.e.without a will, and has not married a non-Hindu,the right of succession first devolves upon the Class 1 heirs, if any,shown in the diagram to the left. If even one such heir exists, all other relatives who do not fall within this category are excluded automatically.If there are several Class 1 heirs, then there are certain rules as to how they will share the properties amongst themselves.

The widow (or widows), mother and each of the children (son or daughter, the law makes no distinction) take equal shares. Where one or more of such sons or daughters is no more, then, the Class 1 heirs in that branch will all jointly stand in the place left behind by such deceased son or daughter. To understand this rule,imagine a tree. It has two branches. Each branch has two twigs. Now, assume that the main trunk of the tree which we have taken as an example, is the deceased Hindu male whose property we are now attempting to divide. The Hindu male has two children who are represented by the two branches. If both are alive, both get equal shares, that is to say, half and half. If, however, one child is no more, leaving behind two children of his own (the two twigs in our example), then, each such grandchild will not share equally with the surviving child of the deceased Hindu male, but will jointly take whatever, their father or mother would have been entitled to, had their father or mother been alive.So in our example, the two twigs would get only the same share as one branch, and would not share in equal thirds with the surviving branch.

 The law makes no distinction between natural and adopted children.

If the widow of a pre-deceased son or the widow of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son has remarried, she is not entitled to receive the inheritance.

In case no Class-I heirs are available,Class-II heirs ,in the diagram below are considered.Among the heirs specified in Class II, those in the preceding entry take the property simultaneously and in exclusion to those in the subsequent entries.


In case of no Class-I or Class-II heirs being available,the property then goes to first,the deceased’sagnates or relatives through male lineage and if still no heir is available, his cognates, or any relative through the lineage of  males or females.Two people are called Agnates of each other if they are related (by blood or by adoption) wholly through males. Agnates could be males or females. Thus, a father’s brother’s daughter is an Agnate but a father’s sister’s son is not an Agnate because the relation is not entirely through males. On the other hand, two people are called Cognates of each other if they are related (by blood or by adoption) but not wholly through males. Cognates could be males or females. A mother’s brother’s daughter or a father’s sister’s son is a Cognate because the relationship is not wholly through males. The relationship of Agnates and Cognates does not extend to those relationships which arise because of marriage. Among two or more Agnates/ Cognates, the order of succession is that the heir who has fewer or no degrees of ascent is preferred. If the degrees are same then those who have fewer or no degrees of descent are preferred.

If someone  leaves behind neither Class 1, nor Class 2 heirs, nor has any agnates, nor any cognates  his entire property lapses to the Government. This is called “escheat”.

The property of a Hindu female dying intestate i.e.without a will,  devolves in the following order:

(a) Firstly, upon her sons and daughters (including the children of any pre-deceased children) and husband;

(b) Secondly, upon the heirs of her husband;

(c) Thirdly, upon her parents

(d) Fourthly, upon the heirs of her father

(e) Fifthly, upon the heirs of her mother

The order of succession is in the order given above. Thus, the heirs in the preceding entry take the property simultaneously and in exclusion to all others. Thus, the children and husband of a  Hindu female take the property in preference to all other heirs specified.  The order of devolution as regards her husband’s heirs would be as if it were her husband’s property and he had died intestate.  The same principle would apply as regards devolution on her father’s heirs.

5.3 S.15(2) carves out an exception to the order of succession specified above. In case of an Hindu female dying intestate and without any issue or any children or any predeceased children, any property inherited by her from her parents shall not devolve upon her husband or his heirs but revert to her natal family.Similarly, in case a Hindu female dies intestate and without any issue or any children or any predeceased children, then any property inherited by her from her husband or her father-in-law  devolves upon the heirs of her husband. Thus, property inherited from her husband would not devolve upon her father or his heirs.

Both the above provisions of s.15(2) would only apply if the female dies without leaving behind any children or children of any predeceased children.  If she has left behind any children, then they would take the property in preference to all other heirs. Further, the provisions only apply to “inherited” property and not property acquired by way of a will or under a gift.


About Keerthika Singaravel

21 Responses to Intestate Succession As Per The Hindu Succession Act,1956

  1. Vaz says:

    A Hindu male unmarried died interstate., he is survived by 1 sister and 2 brothers + 1 deceased brother (3 brothers in total)., will the widow and children of the deceased bother be heirs to the property of the unmarried brother? This property consists of both inherited and self aquired. All part of class 2., also is the surviving sister of the mother entitled to a share? Thanks in advance.

  2. uttem says:

    very good appreciate.

  3. jitendra prasad says:

    My great grand father son was having 03 male children . Now no one of them is surviving .one of children got 02 marriage after the death of1st wife married with 2nd one is alive ..from 1st wife is having 01 child where as from 2nd wife having 03 children .now my query is that the property of my great grandfather which comes in the name of my father will be divided among their living wife and children

  4. Prosenjit says:

    Suppose Ajay dies leaving a son and a daughter and the son dies a day after his father’s death leaving a son and daughter i.e. to say Ajay’s grand son and grand daughter. Now, that Ajay’s son has not predeceased Ajay, do the grandchildren of Ajay belong to class I heir and claim property right along with Ajay’s daughter?

  5. Devanand Suresh says:

    Regards to my grandfather’s property where in there are 2 sons (my uncles) and 1 daugther (thats my mother) ,Seems that from the property people (uncles) in family had sold some land for my mothers marriage in 1985 (marriage purpose). My question is if i am going to file case under hindu succession act 1956 will i get equal share of my mother from the remaining whole property. Please get me some details.. thanks..

  6. Pingback: Will to Will | The Motley Collection

  7. armayank says:

    in case of class I heirs, share is 1-mother,1-widow,1-son,1-daughter. Now if the mother dies intestate within 1 year of the son’s death, is the mother’s share transferable to all her children and grand children ? ( in case of immovable property)

    • Armayank,
      If the mother were still alive,her share of her predeceased son’s property would be her self earned property.And as such,she could will it away,gift it away etc.As she died intestate,her share is to be equally divided between her husband,if he is still alive,and all her children.

  8. K.R.VITTAL says:

    whether a widow of predecesased son can claim share in her mother-in -law”s property(motherin law died intestate, and she is widow)
    guide me,

  9. in a family they planning to deprived his step son that husband purchase all the immovable property for her 2nd that as per law half blood can not this Indian law
    due to this i am very upset.if there is any way please help me

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