Can ancestral property be sold without the consent of successors?

The largest number of disputes pending with the judiciary in India pertains to property. That is why having a clear understanding of your rights and obligations about immovable property is of supreme importance. It is with this intent that we explain what your rights are on an ancestral property you expect to inherit in future.

What is an ancestral property?

Under the existing Hindu laws in India, an ancestral property is an undivided property owned by a family in which four or more generations have rights. For an ancestral property to retain its legal status as “ancestral”, it must not yet be divided. Once divided, following the due procedure and applicable laws, an ancestral property attains the status of a self-acquired property. During its status as an ancestral property, the said asset will be managed by the Karta of the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF).

Can ancestral property be sold without the consent of successors?

Since each member of the HUF may have a share in an ancestral property, any attempts to sell it without the prior consent of each member would amount to criminal intent.

“If the HUF were to lawfully sell the property, every one of them would first have to reach a consensus and then give it in writing to formalise the process. Only after all this is done, the family can proceed with the same of the ancestral property,” says Prabhanshu Mishra, a Lucknow-based lawyer with specialisation in property law.

Not only can the other legal heirs force you to stop the transaction involving an ancestral, but legal action may also be taken against you in the court of the law on charges of forgery.

Understandably, the paperwork involved in such a transaction is quite lengthy and time-taking, Mishra says, adding that buyers involved in such transactions must be extremely careful and take their own time to verify the paper trail.

According to Brajesh  Kumar, a Gurgaon-based lawyer, once an ancestral property has been divided among the legal heirs following the due procedure, it becomes the self-acquired property of that person, and they are free to sell, gift or will their share in the property to whoever they want to.

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