Property, Succession & Inheritance | Part 3 | Family Law

The blog presents the basic theory of property, succession & inheritance that forms the introduction of Family Law in India. This can be useful for students preparing for Law and other Competitive Exams.

Q1. What are the four categories of heirs among Hindus for intestate succession ?

Ans. Heirs belonging to a Hindu male are classified into four categories :

  • Class I
  • Class II
  • Agnates
  • Cognates.

Q2. Who are Class I heirs ?

Ans. The Class I heirs are the most preferred heirs and include mother, wife, son as well
as daughter and their descendants upto the third generation.

Q3. Who are the Class II heirs ?

Ans. Class II heirs include father, brother as well as sister and their children,
maternal and paternal uncles and aunts, maternal and paternal grandfather
and grandmother etc.

Q3. Who are the agnates ?

Ans. For intestate succession, if there are no heirs belonging to Class I or Class II then property goes to agnates. When two persons are related by blood or adoption wholly through males, they are called agnates. For example, the son of a great grandson (son, grandson, great grandson being dead).

P —- > S —- > SS —- > SSS —- > SSSS1

In the above diagram, S is son of P, SS is son of S and grandson of P, SSS is son of SS and great grandson of P, SSSS1 is son of SSS and great great grandson of P. Here, SSSS1 is agnate to P as he is tracing relation wholly through males i.e his father (SSS), grandfather (SS), and greatgrandfather (S). No female has intervened in-between.

Q4. Who are the cognates ?

Ans. In case, when the heirs of class I, class II, agnates are absent then property will go to cognates. When two persons are related by blood or adoption but not wholly through males, they are called cognates. For example father of paternal grandmother i.e. FMF1 is a cognate as female (father’s mother) has intervened in between.

P —- > F —- > FM —- > FMF1

In the above diagram, F is father of P, FM is mother of F and paternal grandmother of P, FMF1 is father of FM. Here, FMF1 is cognate to P as a female has intervened in between, i.e., father’s mother (FM).

Q5. How does the property devolve in case of a female Hindu dies intestate ?

Ans. If a female Hindu dies intestate then heirs are divided into five categories :

  1. upon the sons and daughters (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter) and the husband,
  2. upon the heirs of the husband.
  3. upon the father and mother
  4. upon the heirs of the father, and
  5. upon the heirs of the mother.

Q6. What are the rules of intestate succession among Sunni Muslims ?

Ans. Among Sunni Muslims the heirs are divided into three categories:

  1. Sharers (Quaranic heirs)
  2. Residuaries (Agnatic heirs)
  3. Distant Kindred (Uterine heirs)

The Sharers are the most preferred heirs. First of all, the sharers are allotted their Quaranic shares. If something is left behind after allotting shares to them, then it goes to residuaries. It their shares exhaust the entire estate, then sharers exclude residuaries and distant kindred.
The distant kindred are not entitled to succeed so long as there is any heir belonging to the class of sharers or residuaries. But there is one case in which distant kindred will inherit with the sharer; when there is only one sharer i.e. the wife or husband of the deceased and no other sharer or residuary exist.

Q7. What are the rules of intestate succession among Shia Muslims ?

Ans. Among Shias, heirs are divided into following categories:

  1. Heirs by consanguinity
    • Class I : includes parents and children
    • Class II : includes grandparents, brothers and sisters and their descendants etc.
    • Class III : includes paternal and maternal uncles and aunts of the deceased and of his parents, grandparents etc.
  2. Heirs by marriage

Among the heirs by consanguinity, the first group excludes the second and the second group excludes the third. The claimants in both the categories i.e. heirs by consanguinity and heirs by marriage succeed together, if there are heirs of both the categories.

Q8. What is the applicability of The Indian Succession Act, 1925 ?

Ans. The Indian Succession Act, 1925 is a central legislation and is applicable to every person, unless and until anyone is governed by any law particularly applicable to them. The Indian Succession Act, 1925 is not applicable to Hindus and Muslims, while it governs the Christians and Parsis.

Q9. How does intestate succession take place in Christians ?

Ans. The intestate succession in Christians is governed by The Indian Succession Act, 1925.

  • The first preference is given to the spouse of the deceased and his lineal descendants i.e. children, grand children, great grand children and their remoter lineal descendants.
  • When there are no lineal descendants then property passes on to the spouse of the deceased and those who are kindred to him.
  • If there are no lineal descendant or one who is kindred to him, then entire property goes on to his or her spouse.
  • In absence of such a spouse, property passes on to lineal descendants or those who are kindred to him or her.

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