The joint family is large in size. It consists of parents, children, grand children and other near relatives along with women. It is a group in which several basic families live together at one and the same time.In a joint family, the ownership, production and consumption of wealth takes place on a joint basis. Both movable and immovable properly of the family is owned jointly. The joint property is managed by the head of the family, who is known as the ‘Karta’. He acts as a trustee and looks after the welfare of all the members of the family. The total earnings of all the family members are pooled together. Family expenses are met out of those earnings.A joint family or undivided family is an extended family arrangement prevalent throughout the Indian subcontinent, particularly in India, consisting of many generations living in the same household, all bound by the common relationship.Historically, for generations India had a prevailing tradition of the joint family system or undivided family. The system is an extended family arrangement prevalent throughout the Indian subcontinent, particularly in India, consisting of many generations living in the same home, all bound by the common relationship.[3] A patrilineal joint family consists of an older man and his wife, his sons and daughters and his grandchildren from his sons and daughters.

The family is headed by a senior person called a karta, usually the oldest male, who makes decisions on economic and social matters on behalf of the entire family. The patriarch's wife generally exerts control over the household and minor religious practices and often wields considerable influence in domestic matters. Family income flows into a common pool, from which resources are drawn to meet the needs of all members, which are regulated by the heads of the family.[4] However, with urbanisation and economic development, India has witnessed a break up of traditional joint family into more nuclear-like families, and the traditional joint family in India accounted for a small number of Indian households.[5][6]

A Hindu undivided family or HUF is a legal term related to the Hindu Marriage Act. The female members are also given the right of share to the property in the HUF. The term finds reference in the provisions of the Income Tax Act, but the expression is not defined in the act. There are various aspects of Hindu law relevant for the purpose assessment of income[7] and wealth in the status of HUF, as well as the impact of the provisions of Hindu Succession Act 1956 as amended by Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 relevant for the purpose of assessment of income and wealth in the status of HUF under the Income Tax Act 1961.

In the case of Surjit lal Chhabra 101 ITR 776 SC, joint family and undivided family are synonymous: "A joint Hindu family consists of persons lineally descended from a common ancestor and includes their wives and unmarried daughters. The daughter, on marriage, ceases to be a member of her father's family and becomes a member of her husband's family."

In 2016, a judgment of the Delhi High Court ruled that the eldest female member of a Hindu Undivided Family can be its "karta" (manager).Different relationships are addressed via different names. The nature of relationship also varies. Relations can be of equivalence, mutual respect or teasing in nature.

In joint families in northern and central India between a bride or sister-in-law and her younger brother-in-law, a joking or teasing relationship is common, and the relationship towards an older brother-in-law is that of respectfulness.