Understanding Widow’s Right on Deceased Husband’s Property After Remarriage

In the words of Justice Mitter, “a widow is the trustee for the benefit of her husband’s soul.” 

The Indian succession laws revolve around the principle that it is necessary for a woman to depend on the assets left by her deceased husband. This principle empowers widows to inherit the assets of their deceased husbands.

Based on the laws of inheritance, the rights over the assets acquired by a widow differ across religions.

  • Under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, a wife is entitled to receive a portion of the property of her husband after his death, along with her children and husband’s mother. 
  • The rights of a Christian widow are determined under the Indian Succession Act, 1925. The widow receives the whole assets of the husband, if they do not have children or if the husband does not have parents or any other relatives. In the presence of children, the widow is entitled to receive 1/3 of the property. When the couple does not have children of their own the assets of the deceased shall be shared equally between the widow and the relatives of the husband, with the first preference given to the father.
  • For Muslims, as per Sharia law, the wife will receive 1/4th of the assets of the husband, if they have children. If the couple does not have children together, the widow is entitled to receive 1/8th share of the assets.

The above explained manner of asset distribution happens when the husband dies without leaving a valid Will (except for those following Muslim religion).

Though the law provides widow’s rights in their husband’s property, the fate of these rights is often questioned, raising concerns about her inheritance rights in the event of re-marriage.

As per Section 2 of the Hindu Widow’s Remarriage Act, 1856, all claims and rights which any widow may have in her dead spouse’s property will cease on her remarriage, and the rights over the assets held by the widow shall be transferred to the next in line of succession. However, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, remains silent about the rights of widows in their husband’s property in the event of a remarriage. There were instances where the Hon’ble Supreme Court and various High Courts have upheld a widow’s rights over her ex-husband’s assets, even if she chooses to marry again.

In the context of Christian and Muslim widows, a remarriage may not affect the widow’s right to her share in her deceased husband’s property, especially if the property has been legally transferred to her name or if she has children from her deceased husband.

Disclaimer: The views / the analysis contained therein do not constitute a legal opinion and is not intended to be an advice. Readers of this document are advised to seek their own professional advice before taking any course of action or decision, based on this document.

Stay updated on Tax Information