How are assets divided among children without a will?

My father got married in 1959 and had a son and two daughters from his first wife. She died in 1974. My father remarried in 1978 and had two daughters from his second wife.

My father passed away in 2010 without a will. He had certain properties in his name. How will those assets be distributed among the children in the absence of a will?

—Name withheld on request


As per your query, we assume that your father was a Hindu and his properties are self-earned, self- created. Further, these properties are not ancestral in nature. Also, we assume that there is no right or interest of any other person in the property and that the same were held only by him. 

Since your father passed away without a will, the provisions of Hindu Succession Act, 1956 will be applicable. 

Under Hindu Succession Act, 1956 states “General rules of succession in the case of males.—The property of a male Hindu dying intestate shall devolve according to the provisions of this Chapter

(a) firstly, upon the heirs, being the relatives specified in class I of the Schedule;

(b) secondly, if there is no heir of class I, then upon the heirs, being the relatives specified in class II of the Schedule;

(c) thirdly, if there is no heir of any of the two classes, then upon the agnates of the deceased; and 

(d) lastly, if there is no agnate, then upon the cognates of the deceased.” 

Thus, when a Hindu male dies without a will, it is known as dying intestate. 

 In case of your father, he has passed away intestate and all of you are the Class I heirs i.e widow (second wife) and all his five children (all the daughters and sons). 

All of you will be entitled to his property in equal proportions i.e 1/6th portion devolving upon each one of you. In case any of your brother or sister has pre-deceased your father then the share of such pre-deceased brother or sister would devolve on his or her children in equal proportion. 

Further, based on the location of property, your family would have to procure Letters of Administration or Succession Certificate from the Court having competent jurisdiction. 

Once your family procures Letters of Administration or Succession Certificate, the bequeath has to be recorded with the sub-registrar of assurance or the appropriate registration authority.

Neha Pathak is head of Trust & Estate Planning at Motilal Oswal Private Wealth

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