Q: I am 70 years old. I have an older sister, a younger brother and a younger sister. We have given our ancestral house to a property developer. If my elder sister or I die before the completion of the project, will our next of kin be eligible for the ownership of the property? If not, what can we do to ensure that? According to the deed of conveyance, the promoter gets 50 per cent share and the rest is to be divided equally between us four.
Sameer Bhagat, Calcutta
A: Presuming that all of you are unmarried, your legal heirs will be your brothers and sisters. Under such circumstances your next of kin will inherit the property. Also, in most development agreements it is specifically written in brackets under the rubric of owners that the expression “owner/owners” shall include his or her legal heirs.
Q: My wife is the oldest of five daughters. Her widowed mother has five bighas of land. Recently she made a gift deed, without our knowledge, giving one bigha each to three daughters and two bighas to the fourth. How can my wife get her share?
Syamapada Maiti, via email
A: According to the law, your wife is currently not entitled to any share in her mother’s assets since she is still alive. As for the gift deed, since it was executed by your mother-in-law, it is she alone who can seek its cancellation on grounds admissible by the Transfer of Property Act and the Indian Contract Act.
Q: My cousin expired intestate leaving behind his wife, an unmarried older sister and two nephews (one is the son of his deceased elder brother and the other is that of his deceased sister). Is his widow is the sole legal heir to his movable and immovable properties? What will be the status of his nephews and nieces, and the nephews of his widow in this regard after her demise?
Samanya Ray, Calcutta
A: Assuming that your cousin is Hindu, he will be governed by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. According to this law, the legal heirs of a man who dies intestate will be his wife, children, mother, etc. His father or his siblings do not fall under the schedule of Class I heirs. Hence, your cousin’s wife will inherit the property. Only if she dies intestate, will the question of her husband’s legal heirs’ claim arise.