Posted On 26 May 2011 at 15:27
As per the facts given, A Hindu male father-in-law) who had both self-acquired and ancestral property had died without leaving a WILL.
After the death of the said Hindu male, one of his sons also died leaving his widow.
In the circumstances, how the property left behind by the Hindu male would devolve is the question.
1. The person's self earned property: In the absence of the WILL, the property will go by way of inheritance EQUALLY amongst all his legal heirs. The legal heirs are his widow, son(s) and daughter(s). Since one of his sons died subsequent to him, that son will also get an equal share. Afterwards, since the said son had died (probably without leaving any WILL) the same will go by way of inheritance amongst his legal heirs. In this case, except his widow, there seems to be no other legal heir. Therefore the deceased son's share will be inherited in full by his widow (daughter-in-law) and she will be the absolute owner of the property.
2. Ancestral Property: In terms of Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, if a Hindu male having coparcenary interest in a property dies, THE PARTITION WILL TAKE PLACE AUTOMATICALLY, by operation of law.
3. Thus, depending upon when the father-in-law died, and also depending upon where the property is situated(this is necessary because at various States have provisions granting equal right to daughters from different dates) the property will be partitioned amongst all the Co-parcenars. One share will be earmarked for the deceased (i.e. father-in-law) also.
In this case, since the son (husband) was surviving when the father-in-law died, the said son will get his equal share from the coparcenary / ancestral property.
4. Section 6 of the HSA, 1956 also provides that where a Hindu male having interest in coparcenary property dies without leaving a WILL or other testemantary dispositions, and if he is survived by his female relatives (wife, daughter etc.) then his share will go by way of inheritance and NOT BY WAY OF DEVOLUTION AMONGST THE SURVIVING COPARCENARS. Thus, since the father-in-law died without leaving any will, his share in the ancestral property will go by way of inheritance EQUALLY amongst all his legal heirs (i.e. widow, son(s) and daughter(s)).
5. As already indicated at point No. 1 above, the deceased son will also get a share. Since he is childless, the same will go to his wife. The property will be an absolute property in the hands of the wife. During her life time, she can do anything with it. Only after her death, the Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act will come into play.
6. After her death, if she had not left any will, then the property will go in the following order:
a) firstly, upon the sons and daughters 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; and
e) Lastly, upon the heirs of the mother.
7. However, the ancestral property which she inherits from her husband or from her father-in-law shall devolve, will devolve upon the heirs of the husband, if she does not have any son or daughter at the time of death.