Even today in the year 2023, the institution of marriage serves as the cornerstone of society. Without the act of procreation, no civilization can make progress towards its goals (the addition of new individuals through the process of reproduction). In addition, a healthy and amicable relationship between the husband and wife is necessary for a successful marriage. As a matter of fact, the majority of contemporary nations have laws and constitutions that safeguard the rights and advantages of women, a demographic that has traditionally been at a disadvantage.
As usually women suffer more in case of divorces or after the death of their husbands, so their knowledge regarding the inheritance of property is very important. So after husband death who is owner of property in India? Here we present some laws and legal provisions that go a long way in protecting the rights of wives in particular and women in general.
Many women are not clear about their rights in the property of their husbands and whether wife is the legal heir of husband. The rights of a wife in her husband’s property after his death depend upon:
- The kind of joint ownership of husband and wife
- nature of property of the husband – self-acquired or ancestral
In case of property jointly acquired by both husband and wife during marriage, the nature of ownership determines the rights of wife in husband property in India after his death. The joint ownership can be:
Tenancy in common
There is no right of survivorship. When one co-owner dies, his share goes to the legal heirs.
When one co-owner dies, his share passes on to the surviving co-owners.
Tenancy by entirety
Tenancy by entirety is a special kind of joint tenancy which takes place only between husband and wife. In this kind of ownership, both the spouses cannot pass their share in the property to a third person without the consent of others. This tenancy can be terminated either by mutual agreement, legal separation or by the death of one of the spouse.
You may also like to read How To File Mutual Divorce? Mutual Divorce Process.
Presumption of ownership:
Unless specifically stated in the document of property, the law presumes tenancy in common between the co-owners. However, in case of a married couple, the presumption is for the tenancy by entirety unless otherwise specified in the deed.
It is always advisable to disclose the nature of the ownership in the title document to avoid legal hassles later.
You may like to read Property Title Verification In India – The Process, Methods & Other Aspects.
Distribution of property to wife and other legal heirs:
A. If the joint ownership is –
Tenancy by entirety or joint tenancy with survivorship-then after the death of the husband the property goes to the wife.
Tenancy in common – the legal heirs of the deceased husband will become co-owners and the share in the property will devolve as per provisions of Hindu Succession Act or personal laws or India Succession Act as applicable.
B. In case of joint property of husband and wife : If the fact is established that
The property was purchased by the husband, but it is held in joint names. According to the applicable law, the full property will be distributed among the legal heirs, which includes the wife. In spite of the fact that the property is held in joint names, it was the wife's earnings alone that were used to acquire the property; therefore, the entire property belongs to the woman. After the husband's share of the property is divided according to the contributions that each party made towards the acquisition of the property, the wife will receive her share as a legal heir according to the laws that are in effect in the jurisdiction in which the couple resides. The husband and wife jointly acquire the property, with both parties making contributions towards the acquisition of the property.
Self-acquired and ancestral property:
Under Hindu Law: the wife has a right to inherit the property of her husband only after his death if he dies intestate. Hindu Succession Act, 1956 describes legal heirs of a male dying intestate and the wife is included in the Class I heirs, and she inherits equally with other legal heirs.
If the property is:
Self-acquired- If husband dies intestate, wife inherits as Class I heir
Ancestral – Wife is entitled to get a share out of the share of her husband’s property, but she has no right to claim partition. She gets her share as class I legal heir when the partition of the ancestral property is affected.
For people of faiths other than Hindus– the succession to property is governed by personal laws or The Indian Succession Act.
Wives Rights In Husband’s Property After His Death Among Non-Hindus
The Rights Among Christians - Wife’s Share In Husband’s Property After His Death In Christianity
In the case of Christians, the property is considered as self-acquired despite the mode of acquisition and wife has a right to the property of deceased husband along with other legal heirs.
Also read What Is Adverse Possession Of Property Or Land in India?
The Rights Among Muslims – Wife’s Share In Husband’s Property After His Death In Islam
Muslim law also recognises the right of the wife in the property of the deceased husband – generally one-fourth of the property if no children and one eighth if children are there.
In conclusion after her husband passes away, a wife in India may be entitled to certain property rights, but these rights are restricted by a complex set of laws, traditions, and religious beliefs. Despite the fact that the legal structure governing women's property rights has improved over the years, many women in India continue to have difficulty obtaining the portion of their husband's assets that is rightfully theirs. In order to ensure that the wife's property rights are safeguarded, it is necessary to have a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of the legal system and to seek the advice of legal professionals and consultants. It is extremely important for women to be aware of their rights and to take active measures to protect their interests, such as registering their marriages and obtaining legal documentation of their ownership rights. It is also essential for women to be aware of their rights and to take these measures. In general, the rights of a wife to inherit her husband's property after his death are a vital component in ensuring gender equality and empowering women to guarantee their financial futures. This is because a husband's property is considered to be his wife's property. It is possible for India to make progress towards a more equal and just society if these rights are protected.