I inherited some land and three houses from my parents in 1986. My father bought the land and also built the houses. I want to pass on the property to my daughter and son equally, and would like to make this explicit in my Will. I have been told that daughters cannot inherit property older than a certain period. Kindly advise.

—Prem Kumar Sharma

Testamentary succession is governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925, under which any sound person can dispose his property by way of Will. As per the Indian Succession Act, 1925, there is no specific bar on the testator to dispose of self-acquired property, i.e. one can freely bequeath self-acquired property equally among legal heirs. In case the owner does not leave a Will, the legal heirs would inherit the assets of the deceased as per the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 in the prescribed order, and the first preference would be given to Class-I legal heirs.

Also Read: Unmarried daughter is entitled to inherit her share of father’s property

However, there is a difference between self-acquired and inherited property, and similarly, there is difference in the right to bequeath self-acquired and inherited property.

The properties, which are self-acquired can be bequeathed by Will by the owner to anyone (including persons other than his/her heirs or legal representatives or relatives). But if the property is inherited by someone, then that person can’t bequeath that by Will; such inherited property would devolve upon the entitled heirs under the provisions of Hindu law, if the deceased used to follow Hindu religion at the time of demise.

Under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, prior to amendment of 2005 (dated September 09, 2005, “2005 Amendment"), daughters had no right to inherit ancestral property. However, post the 2005 Amendment, daughters have equal right to inherit ancestral property as that of the son.

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Aradhana Bhansali is partner, Rajani Associates

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