Historically, property rights in India have favoured men. But recent changes in women’s property rights are giving them greater standing.

8 Legal estate and property rights guaranteed to women

Women’s rights, including the property rights of women in India, have come a long way. Thanks to the efforts of women’s rights movements and the Indian government and judiciary, property ownership laws have undergone a sea change. All women should be knowledgeable about their legal rights so they can counter unlawful discrimination. 

Here are eight legal estate and property rights that are guaranteed to women in India:

Also Read: Property Inheritance: What You Must Know When Making Your Will

1. The property a woman buys is her own

Property ownership does not change after marriage. If a woman bought property before marriage, it legally remains hers even after marriage, unless she chooses to gift it to someone. The woman’s husband and in-laws have no claim to the property.

2. Property bought by another person in a woman’s name is hers

According to the law, if a property is bought with joint funds or only the husband’s funds and is put in the wife’s name, the wife is considered the sole property owner.

3. Women have a right to their spouse’s legal estate

Wives have as much legal right to any private property owned by the husband as his other legal heirs post the husband's death.

4. Any property funded by a woman is hers

The property a woman buys in the name of her spouse or children can be claimed as hers, provided she offers proof in a court of law in the form of a receipt.

5. Women’s right to residence

As per the law, even if the property is not in the woman’s name, legally, she cannot be forced to leave the house by her husband or in-laws. She is allowed to reside there.

Related: A Daughter's Guide To Understanding Right To Property

6. Women are not responsible for any liabilities owed by their spouse

As per the Married Women’s Property (MWP) Act, the property owned by the wife is secure against the husband’s creditors. So, a woman’s property cannot be used to settle debts owed by her husband or relatives.

7. Right to life insurance coverage

If life cover is bought under the MWP Act, creditors cannot stake a claim on the proceeds. All proceeds will go directly to the wife and children. 

8. Women’s right to ancestral property

The year 2020 saw a landmark ruling in favour of women’s rights to ancestral property. Here, by virtue of her birth, a daughter would have equal rights as a son to ancestral property. This holds true whether the father is alive or not and if the daughter has the will or documents relating to the ancestral property.

Related: Rights To Ancestral Property: What Every Indian Women Must Know

Last words

The progressive moves made by the judiciary and government in India have made great leaps in ensuring that women have equal status as men in society. From lower rates on home loans and stamp duty to revised laws seeking to eliminate discrimination, we have come a long way. However, to avoid unnecessary complications, women should keep and safeguard all necessary documentation, such as copies of wills, property documents, or property receipts.