What is the ratio in which the share of the ancestral property of a predeceased Christian man is divided among the predeceased man's heirs? Who are the legal heirs when the deceased has one divorced wife and has married a second time after the divorce. The deceased has a son through his first marriage (the first wife is divorced). The deceased also has a son through his second wife (now his widow who is neither divorced nor remarried).
Every law of succession defines the rules of distribution of property in case a person dies without making a will. The Christian Law of Succession is governed by the provisions in the Indian Succession Act, 1925. However, with respect to Indian Christians, the diversity in inheritance laws is greatly intensified by making domicile a criterion for determining the application of laws.
Despite these variances, the overall law for Indian Christians in effect is the Indian Succession Act of 1925, which will be dealt with in this project. It has been deemed “somewhat archaic and anachronistic” by certain legal experts, but it continues to be the only firm law in this regard. This Act recognises three types of heirs for Christians: the spouse, the lineal descendants, and the kindred.The Domicile of the deceased plays an integral role in determining the method of devolution of his property. Upon and during subsistence of marriage, the wife acquires the domicile of her husband automatically.
As per Indian succession act, S. 33, S. 33-A, S. 34 of the Act govern succession to the widow. Together they lay down that if the deceased has left behind both a widow and lineal descendants, she will get one-third share in his estate while the remaining two-thirds will go to the latter. If no lineal descendants have been left but other kindred are alive, one-half of the estate passes to the widow and the rest to the kindred. And if no kindred are left either, the whole of the estate shall belong to his widow. If the widow is still alive, the lineal descendants will take two-thirds of the estate; if not, they will take it in whole. Per capita (equal division of shares) applies if they stand in the same degree of relationship to the deceased. This is as per Sections 36-40 of the Act. Importantly, case law has determined that the heirs to a Christian shall take his property as tenants-in-common and not as joint tenants.
As per S. 48, where the intestate has left neither lineal descendant, nor parent, nor sibling, his property shall be divided equally among those of his relatives who are in the nearest degree of kin to him. If there are no heirs whatsoever to the intestate, the doctrine of escheat can be invoked by the Government, whereupon the estate of the deceased will revert to the State.