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Ancestral Property VS Inherited Property: Know the Difference

Blox Social
Posted on
Feb 20, 2023

One of the most important aspects of managing the capital gains from selling an inherited property is availing exemptions under Section 54 by investing in a new property. You may, however, first need to understand the basics of inheritance laws in the country and learn more about your rights. When it comes to property ownership, understanding the distinction between ancestral property and inherited property is crucial. These terms often create confusion, but they carry different legal implications and rights for the heirs involved.

In this blog post, we will delve into the key differences between ancestral and inherited property and shed light on the legal aspects associated with each.

Ancestral Property

While no legislation clearly defines "ancestral property", judicial rulings, laws, and acts related to property clarify that any property that has remained undivided over four generations of a Hindu Undivided Family is referred to as ancestral property. This means that if a property has been passed down to you from your father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, has remained undivided and has not been partitioned, it qualifies as ancestral property. The subsequent three generations - your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have a claim to this property by virtue of birth. These three generations of heirs are referred to as coparceners. The claim over ancestral property is acquired at birth and not after the demise of the predecessor.

Self-acquired Property

The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 defines self-acquired property as any property that is bought or otherwise acquired by a person through his/her own resources. When an ancestral property is divided, your share is also now a self-acquired property. Likewise, any other immovable property or land you acquire as a legal heir or has been gifted or willed to you is your self-acquired property. This property can now be sold, leased, mortgaged, gifted, or willed by you in accordance with your wishes. Let us take a look at the rights of inheritance that govern both ancestral and self-acquired properties in HUF and the rights of daughters.

Inheritance of Property

Prior to 1956, the rights of inheritance in India were varied, complex, and largely unclear. Local customs, caste regulations, and traditions largely governed them. This caused a great number of disputes and conflicts. The introduction of the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 was largely responsible for the resolution of the murky regulations that governed the matter of inheritance. This legislation is the foundation of intestate succession in Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist families. The law underwent further amendment in 2005 to include the rights of daughters in ancestral and self-acquired property of their fathers.

Daughter's Right of Inheritance

Prior to 2005, an unmarried daughter was considered a member of the Hindu Unified Family (HUF) unit but was not a coparcener. This means that a daughter could not ask for a share, partition, or division of ancestral property, nor could she gain any right to sell such property. Further, upon marriage, a woman lost the right to any claim on ancestral property. The amendment introduced to the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 in 2005 affirms the daughter'sdaughter's right to her father's ancestral or self-acquired property if he dies intestate or without a will. She is now considered a coparcener in the ancestral property, irrespective of her marital status.

Inheritance Through Will

A person can freely gift or bequeath, through a will, any self-acquired property. This can be willed to legal heirs, Class I or II heirs, family members, friends, or any other person or institution. Ancestral property acquired by birth cannot be willed, as subsequent generations have a claim on the property. However, a legal adult of sound mind can make a will and endow self-acquired property. Making a will often avoids a number of property disputes and conflicts after the demise of the property owner.

Difference between Ancestral Property and Inherited Property

An ancestral property is a property that is held by a HUF for four generations without being divided or partitioned. The right of inheritance of ancestral property is gained by virtue of birth, and the claim lies with the subsequent three generations. This means that if you have inherited an ancestral property, your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have a claim on the property. You cannot bequeath the property through a will as this contravenes the claims of the subsequent generations.

An inherited property can be ancestral or self-acquired. It can come to you as you claim to an ancestral property or by virtue of being a legal heir or can be willed to you by a family member, friend, or anyone known to you. Ancestral property that is partitioned becomes a self-acquired property and can be willed by the owner.

Expert Guidance

Blox is a tech-enabled online real estate buying platform that helps home buyers navigate the property buying journey without any stress or mess. Blox assigns a relationship manager who will help you understand the basics of property inheritance. Buying your dream home is a momentous decision and Blox provides end-to-end guidance in helping you find a property that will fulfill all your requirements.


  • How do you prove a property is ancestral?

Proving a property to be ancestral in India typically involves a combination of legal and documentary evidence. In the context of ancestral property rights, one can establish the ancestral nature of a property by demonstrating its uninterrupted inheritance through generations.

Key documents such as land records, inheritance deeds, wills, and family trees can provide crucial evidence of the property's lineage and continuous ownership within a family. These documents help establish a clear chain of inheritance and demonstrate that the property has been passed down from generation to generation.

In addition to documentary evidence, testimonies from family members, neighbors, or other individuals familiar with the property's history can further support the claim of its ancestral nature.

It is important to note that the specific requirements and legal procedures for proving ancestral property may vary based on the state or region within India. Consulting with a legal expert well-versed in property laws and local regulations is advisable to ensure a comprehensive and successful validation of the ancestral property status.

  • What is the meaning of inherit ancestral property?

Inheriting ancestral property in India refers to the legal right of a person to receive and claim ownership of property that has been passed down through generations within their family. An ancestral property is typically defined as property that has been inherited up to four generations, including the latest generation.

According to the Hindu Succession Act, which governs inheritance laws for Hindus in India, ancestral property is considered as joint family property. It is inherited by male descendants up to three generations and can be claimed by daughters as well. In some states, even daughters have equal rights to ancestral property.

The right to inherit ancestral property is based on the concept of coparcenary, where all members of a Hindu joint family have an equal share and interest in the ancestral property. Upon the death of a family member, the property is divided equally among the surviving coparceners, and their respective shares continue to be inherited by their descendants.

It is important to note that the laws and regulations regarding ancestral property may vary based on religion, personal beliefs, and regional customs. Therefore, consulting with a legal expert is advisable to understand the specific rules and procedures applicable to a particular situation.

  • What is difference between ancestral property and self acquired property?

In India, the concepts of ancestral property and self-acquired property have legal implications and are treated differently under the law. Here's an explanation of the differences between the two:

Ancestral Property: An ancestral property is a property that is inherited from four generations of male lineage. According to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, ancestral property refers to property that is inherited by a Hindu male from his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and so on. It is important to note that ancestral property can only be inherited by male descendants, both living and deceased. In case of the death of a male coparcener, his share in the ancestral property devolves upon his surviving coparceners by survivorship and not by succession.

Self-acquired Property: Self-acquired property refers to any property that is acquired by a person through his/her own efforts, such as by purchase, gift, or inheritance. It is a property that an individual obtains by their own earnings or by other legal means. The property may be acquired by either a man or a woman and is not limited to any particular lineage or gender.

The distinction between ancestral property and self-acquired property is important in matters of inheritance and partition. Ancestral property has certain legal protections and coparcenary rights attached to it, while self-acquired property allows the owner to have full control over its disposal, inheritance, and transfer. In case of ancestral property, the rights of coparceners are governed by specific laws, whereas self-acquired property can be bequeathed through a will or as per the individual's discretion.

It's worth noting that the legal provisions and interpretations may vary, especially based on religious customs and personal laws. It is always advisable to consult a legal professional or refer to the relevant laws and judgments for precise information and guidance regarding ancestral and self-acquired properties in India.