An ancestral property is an undivided property, in which four generations of a single family have their share. Once divided among the stakeholders, an ancestral property would cease to be an ancestral property, and turn into a self-acquired property.

Ancestral property is any property belonging to one’s ancestors and passed on through the generations. Ancestral properties are considered very special not just for their monetary benefits but also for their sentimental value.

How many generations can claim ancestral property?

In the case of a classified ancestral property that has remained undivided, four generations of the male lineage have their claim. Basically, the father, the grandfather, the great grandfather, and the great-great-grandfather have inheritance rights over an undivided ancestral property.

This means, say,-


on A’s ancestral property, his son B, B’s son C and C’s son D have inheritance rights.

The only condition is that the property should have remained undivided till the fourth generation. When it comes to such ancestral properties, the right for a son to inherit the property accrues by birth. Thus, even if the son is estranged or disinherited, the claim to the property remains valid.

What is an undivided property?

An ancestral property that has been divided through a partition deed or a family arrangement, ceases to be an ancestral property as soon as the arrangement comes into effect. In other words, when a division or a partition takes place in a joint Hindu family, the property becomes self-acquired in the hands of the family member, who has received it.

Let’s say –


If A decided to divide the property between B and his other sons, the chain will be broken and the property inherited by B will no longer qualify as an ancestral property but a self-acquired property.

Can properties be obtained through a gift or will be ancestral properties?

Properties that one acquires by way of a gift deed and through the execution of a will, do not qualify as ancestral properties. Also note that through a gift deed, a father can give this self-acquired property to a third party in his lifetime. Through a will, the property ownership is transferred after the demise of the donor.

Exclusion from ancestral property

Some parents or grandparents may not have a good relationship with their offspring and may want to prevent them from inheriting ancestral property. However, this is not legally possible. Any male part of the four-generation lineage is automatically eligible for inheriting the property.

One is free to write a will and exclude one’s offspring (sons as well as daughters) from inheriting their self-acquired property. In 2016, the Delhi High Court ruled that an adult son had no legal claim on his parents’ self-acquired property. “Where the house is a self-acquired house of the parents, a son, whether married or unmarried, has no legal right to live in that house and he can live in that house, only at the mercy of his parents up to the time the parents allow,” the HC order said.

The same, however, is not true for ancestral property. A father does not have a choice to exclude his son from possession of his ancestral properties. However, the Delhi HC, in November 2018, ruled that harassed parents can evict their children from any type of property. The type of property, ruled by the HC, would in no manner act as a deterrent in eviction of children and legal heirs, who ill-treat their elderly parents.

After an amendment in the laws through the Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Rules, 2017, through which the term ‘self-acquired’ was done away with, seniors can apply for eviction of their sons, daughters and legal heirs from the property of any kind ─ movable or immovable, ancestral or self-acquired, tangible or intangible.

Start of ownership right in an ancestral property

In the case of ancestral properties, the right of the stakeholder arises at the time of his birth. In other forms of inheritance, such as inheritance through a will, the right arises at the time of the owner’s death.

For example, B’s right to his ancestral property will arise at the time of his birth and not at the time of his father A’s demise.

Share of each generation in ancestral property

The share of each generation is first determined and the share of successive generations is further subdivided from the share. Note here that the share of each member in his ancestral property is constantly decreasing as newer members keep adding to the family.

The extent of claim over ancestral property

The previous generation will have a prior claim on an ancestral property. This means that the claim of the following generations will be a sub-division of what is left after the property is divided among the stakeholders of the prior generation.

If A has two brothers, their ancestral property will first be divided into three shares. The share of each brother can then be divided among their offspring and so on.

Women’s right in ancestral property

According to the initial Hindu Succession Act, 1956, women were not allowed to claim their rights on ancestral property. This changed in 2005, though. An amendment was made by the Supreme Court that allowed women to exercise equal rights on ancestral property. This amendment was made on September 9, 2005. Even after the daughter is married, she will remain a coparcener (a person who shares equal inheritance rights).

In 2005, the rule was that the daughter and the father had to be alive on September 9, 2005, for the daughter to exercise her rights.

This was slashed in 2018 too. Even if the father had passed away before 2005, the daughter could claim her rights to the property.

However, it is to be noted that if the daughter passes on the property shares to her son/daughter, it no longer remains an ancestral property. It will merely be an inherited property.

Women’s right in agricultural land

Even though 2005 has made daughters an equal stakeholder in ancestral property, this rule was often ignored at the time of the division of agricultural land in India. This is primarily because land in India is a state subject while the Hindu Succession Act is primarily a central law. In many Indian states, agricultural land is divided according to state-specific laws that don’t treat daughters as equal beneficiaries of ancestral property.

 Son-in-law’s right in the property of his father-in-law

Son-in-law is not considered a part of the family of his father-in-law, he has no right to property owned by the latter. According to a recent ruling by the Kerala High Court,  a son-in-law will have no right in a property belonging to his father-in-law, even if he has given money for the construction work of the said property.

“When the father-in-law is in possession of the property, the son-in-law cannot plead that he had been adopted as a member of the family, subsequent to the marriage with his daughter and has right in the property. The residence of the son-in-law is permissive in nature.

Son-in-law cannot have any legal right to his father-in-law’s property and building, even if he has spent an amount on the construction of the building,” the HC said while giving its verdict in the Davis Raphel versus Hendry Thomas case

Laws governing ancestral properties

While the ancestral property is divided under the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, of 1956, among Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists, the rules in this regard are governed by the Indian Succession Act, of 1925, in the case of Christians. In the case of Muslims, provisions of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, of 1937, apply.

Among Christians, the inheritance and succession rules treat men and women equally. Also, their property is treated as self-acquired, in spite of its mode of acquisition, and during one’s lifetime, nobody else can contest it.

Under Muslim law, there are two types of heirs – the sharers, who are entitled to a certain share in the deceased’s property, and the residuary, who takes up the share in the property that is left over after the sharers have taken their share.

Who can sell ancestral property?

While the head of a Hindu undivided family (HUF) has the power to manage the family assets under Hindu law, an ancestral property cannot be sold by the sole decision of one or part owners, since four generations have their claim over such a property. The consent of each stakeholder will be required, to sell an undivided ancestral property.

All coparceners, including daughters, can seek partition and sale of ancestral property. In case a stakeholder is denied his share in the property or in case one member decides to sell the property without consulting other members, a legal notice could be sent to the offending party, demanding your rights.

What is the right of a wife in her husband’s ancestral property?

Under Hindu law, the wife of a man is entitled to get a share in her husband’s ancestral property in the capacity of his Class-I heir after his demise. Rules are not so straightforward when it comes to the husband’s self-acquired property. In case he dies leaving a will and cutting his wife off of his self-acquired property, his wishes will take prevalence.

Check Your Ancestral Property Details Online?

Step 1: Visit the dedicated online land records portal.

Step 2: Find the Query or Search button to proceed with your ancestral property search.

Step 3: Enter the property details or the name of your ancestor to find the required property details.

Check Your Ancestral Property Details Offline?

Step 1: Visit the nearest Tehsildar’s office, provide the required information, and fill out a few essential forms.

Step 2: Once done, you can get the survey number that you can use to search for your ancestral property details.

Step 3: With this survey number, you can either visit the dedicated online land records portal to find ancestral property details or do the same offline at the same office.

Child Born in a Live-in Relationship have any Right over the Ancestral Property?

As per Supreme Court's order in June 2022, a child born out of a live-in relationship can claim their right to the ancestral property of their father. 

The order states that "if a man or woman live together for a long period as husband and wife, it will be presumed as wedlock. The presumption could fall under Section 11 of the Evidence Act.






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