These Are Your Rights Under The Hindu Undivided Family
In matters related to property laws, the term Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) if often used. An HUF comprises all the people who have lineally descended from a common ancestor and includes wives and unmarried daughters. Apart from Hindus, HUF laws also cover Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists.
Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) reiterated that all assets belonging to an HUF would be presumed to be joint property. Under the Indian law, the property belongs to everyone in the family, equally. Only self-acquired property can be claimed by members of the undivided family.
Here are some other points to keep in mind about the concept:
- An HUF comprises a larger number of people within a family and the extended family, including female members. Coparceners are on the other hand limited to four generations – father, sons, grandsons and great grandsons. After 2005, women are also coparceners. Note that coparcenary cannot start without a common male ancestor.
- The concept of HUF is not based on the property at all. A family that owns no property can also be an HUF.
- Coparceners can ask for property partition rights. The other members can claim only through the coparceners and have no direct claim.
- An unmarried daughter is part of an HUF. Upon her marriage, she becomes part of her husband's HUF. However, after 2005, a woman (daughter), married or unmarried, is a coparcener just like a son in her father's family. In her husband's HUF, she cannot be a coparcener and can be a member only. Her share is only as much as her husband's individual property or his share of joint property or her son's share of the same.
- A single male does not constitute an HUF.
- After the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, as well as the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, it has been understood that widows have absolute rights on the husband's property and it cannot be stripped by remarriage or adoption. Previously, the property of a deceased husband was could be moved ahead within the HUF.
- A member of an HUF can receive gifts from a stranger, too. This was upheld by the SC in Ref CIT versus Satyendra Kumar (1998) 232 ITR 360(SC). A gift by mother also can also be an HUF property.
- Under the law, after marriage, a son continues to be a member of his father's HUF and a coparcener while he himself forms an HUF within the existing HUF. In his own HUF, he is called a Karta.
- In case a deceased father is survived by a wife and a daughter only, the father's self-acquired property will pass on to the wife and daughter. All ancestral property will be taken upon as part of the HUF and can be claimed by other members of the HUF. However, if the father has a partitioned share in the HUF in his own name, that should rightfully be passed to the wife and daughter.
- After 2005, women can also blend their individual property into the HUF since she is a coparcener. Previously, women in a joint family were not allowed to blend their individual property with that of the joint family property in an HUF.