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My father expired without a will and has a freehold house owned jointly with my mother. Will the property be transferred to my mother by default? Can she sell off the property on her own? If not, then what is the procedure?

—Amar

Assuming you are Hindu by faith, certain rules will apply accordingly. As your late father had not executed a will, his estate will be subject to intestate succession. As per the Schedule to the Indian Succession Act, 1925, for your father’s estate, the class I legal heirs would be your mother (his wife or widow), you and your siblings (if any), your father’s mother (if she is alive), widows and children of your predeceased siblings (if any), among others. Each such class I legal heir will take an equal share in the property.

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Hence, your mother will only inherit her proportional share of the overall estate of your father, in her capacity as his widow. Taking your father’s 50% interest in the said house, it will be divided in equal parts among his class I legal heirs.

As you have not identified any other surviving family members in your query, we have assumed that only you and your mother survive your late father. In such a scenario, you are entitled to inherit 25% of the ownership interest in the freehold property, with the balance 25% of your father’s interest devolving upon your mother. Subsequently, she will collectively hold 75% (which includes her original 50% stake) of the ownership of the property, with the balance 25% in your name.

If she wishes to sell the title over the entire property, she will require your co-operation and consent. Without your co-operation, she will find it difficult to identify a buyer who will only purchase her share in the property. You have the option of transferring your interest to your mother, or directly to any willing buyer; or vice-versa where she may wish to transfer to you.

Rishabh Shroff is partner, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. Queries and views at mintmoney@livemint.com

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