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What is a Legal Heir Certificate, and Why is it Important?

We often hear about people fighting a court case to keep the share of their inherited land or be nominated as the sole legal heir of the property. However, matters can get even more complicated when the original proprietor of real estate dies intestate, i.e., without leaving any will behind to clarify their wishes on the distribution of the property. In such cases, succeeding family members must attain official documents like the Legal Heir Certificate or Succession Certificate to assume the proprietor’s responsibilities and gain the freedom to make decisions on their behalf. 

Legal Heir Certificate
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People with no legal background often find themselves in a bind when there is no way to understand the acts in the Indian constitution and what all the technical jargon implies. A legal heir certificate is one such debated topic that needs simplification. Read to find out more about who are legal heirs and how to get a legal heir certificate.

Who Are Legal Heirs?

Who Are Legal Heirs
Money divided by legal heirs

According to succession laws, when a person dies without leaving any legal clarification or a will behind, a person who inherits all the materialistic properties and responsibilities, and even debts that come with real estate, they are termed as an heir. 
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In India, legal heirs can be classified into two categories – Class I and Class II.

Class I heirs in equal share for a Hindu man according to Hindu Succession Law – 

  • His wife
  • His children
  • His mother

In the absence of Class I heirs, Class II heirs can claim the property.

Class II heirs for a Hindu man according to Hindu Succession Law – 

  • His father
  • His grandchildren
  • His great-grandchildren
  • His siblings
  • Other relatives

What Is a Legal Heir Certificate?

What Is a Legal Heir Certificate
Last Will

A Legal Heir Certificate is an essential official document issued by the government bodies that helps establish the relationship between the deceased person and their legal heirs according to the Succession Laws of India. A legal heir certificate india helps transfer all the legal assets of the deceased person to their living family members. This certificate is needed for real estate and the transfer of financial claims via banks like provident funds, house tax, loans, electricity bills, saving/current accounts, filing of IT returns, etc. In addition, a legal heirship certificate from court is needed when a person dies intestate, i.e., without leaving a will or declaring a legal nominee behind. 

Why Do You Need a Legal Heir Certificate?

Why Do You Need a Legal Heir Certificate?
Inheritance Law

Waris certificate is claimed by the rightful successor who takes over any assets and responsibilities of the deceased person. Legal heirship certificate is needed to – 

  • Transfer a deceased person’s properties and assets to the rightful successor.
  • Claim any insurance policies in place.
  • Sanction and receive any family pension allotted to the deceased employee by the official channels.
  • Claim monetary dues like provident funds, gratuity, etc., from the government.
  • Receive any pending salary of the deceased employee who was working for the state or central government.
  • Receive employment due to any compassionate appointments.

If you are looking to purchase a property, it is advised to ask for a legal heir certificate to confirm who is the rightful proprietor. In cases of multiple legal heirs, you must ensure that everyone signs the deed of conveyance to avoid any legal dispute cases in the future. 
Read: Types of Will in India: Understanding the Indian Succession Act

What Are The Advantages Of Obtaining A Legal Heir Certificate?

A legal heir certificate is a document that certifies the rightful heirs of a deceased person. It is an important document that helps the heirs to claim the assets and properties left behind by the deceased. You must know how to apply legal heir certificate because here are some advantages of obtaining a legal heir certificate in India:

  • Proof of legal heirship: The legal heir certificate is a legal proof that certifies the legal heirs of the deceased person. This document is necessary to claim the assets and properties left behind by the deceased.
  • Easy transfer of assets: Still wondering is legal heir certificate enough for property transfer? The original legal heir certificate helps in the easy transfer of assets and properties left behind by the deceased. This certificate is required to transfer the assets and properties to the legal heirs.
  • Avoids legal disputes: In the absence of a legal heir certificate, there may be disputes among the legal heirs over the assets and properties left behind by the deceased. The legal heir certificate helps in avoiding such disputes and ensures a smooth transfer of assets.
  • Useful in obtaining government benefits: The legal heir certificate is useful in obtaining government benefits such as pension, insurance, and other financial assistance.

Read on to know the procedure for legal heir certificate creation along with the legal heir certificate documents required-
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What Is the Process of Getting a Legal Heir Certificate?

What Is the Process of Getting a Legal Heir Certificate?
Women filling a legal heir form

To get your legal heir certificate, you must reach out to the respective area’s Taluk Tehsildar or corporation/municipality office or the district civil court. 

  • The legitimate heir of the deceased person must contact the rightful authority of the respective area and ask for the application form that needs to be filled to apply for a legal heir certificate. The application includes the names of the legal heirs, their relation to the deceased, and their residential addresses. After filling this application to the best of your knowledge, could you submit it to the government officials? You can also hire a lawyer for the same who’ll reach out to the district civil court on your behalf.
  • The death certificate of the late proprietor, along with all the other necessary documents, must be attached to the application. If you do not already have it, the death certificate must be retrieved from the corporation/ municipality office.
  • You must submit an affidavit on a stamp paper or a self-declaration along with the application for a legal heir certificate.
  • Your enquiry is noted, and a revenue inspector or an administrative officer conducts a thorough inspection to understand all the facts.
  • Once the inspection was completed and declared victorious, the respective authorities issued the legal heirship certificate.

Usually, this process of submitting an application and receiving the legal heir certificate takes around 30 days. However, if you face an unavoidable unexpected delay, you must reach out to the Revenue Division Officer (RDO) or the sub-collector of the respective area. 
Read: What is Patta Chitta – The Online Application Process Broken Down

What Are the Documents Needed to Obtain a Legal Heir Certificate?

To obtain a legal heir certificate issued by the government of India, you must ensure that you submit the below-mentioned documents along with the application – 

  1. Application form – filled with accurate information and signed.
  2. Applicant’s identity or address proof. Identity proof could be the applicant’s Aadhar Card, Driving Licence, Voter ID Card, Passport,or any other Identity Card issued by the Government of India. Address proof could be any acceptable ID proof or any gas bill, telephone or mobile bill, passbook, etc.
  3. Death certificate of the deceased proprietor. It can be obtained from the corporation/ municipality office.
  4. Proof for Date of Birth of all legal heirs. It could be a PAN Card, Passport, Birth Certificate, School Transfer or Leaving Certificate, etc.
  5. Address proof of the deceased proprietor. 
  6. A self-undertaking affidavit.

The Difference Between a Legal Heir Certificate and a Succession Certificate

The Difference Between a Legal Heir Certificate and a Succession Certificate
Signing a legal heir document

Though legal heir certificates and succession certificates might sound similar due to their terminology and purpose, they are entirely different official documents that cannot be a substitute for each other. Some of the significant differences between a legal heir certificate and a succession certificate are – 

  • The legal heir certificate is issued by the district’s tehsildar, and the succession certificate is issued by the civil court. 
  • An heirship certificate is used to claim employee benefits, insurance policies, property registration, and transfer any shares or debts initially handled by the deceased person. Succession certificate is limited to grant the power to make financial decisions and hold transactions on behalf of the deceased person. 
  • An heirship certificate helps establish the relationship between the applicant and the deceased person, while a succession certificate helps settle any cases of the disputed property.
  • According to succession laws, a legal heir certificate is not enough proof for the applicant to act as the beneficiary of the deceased person’s property. On the other hand, a succession certificate ensures that any transaction on behalf of the deceased person carried out by the document holder is legal.
  • Legal heir certificates can be obtained by the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased person. The official legal heirs can only acquire succession certificates.
  • Fees for the legal heir certificate are the stamp paper’s price, i.e., Rs. 20 and the stamp, i.e., Rs. 2. Whereas a succession certificate requires the price of 3% of the entire property’s total value.
  • An heirship certificate can be issued between 15-30 days, while the succession certificate requires at least 45 days.
  • Legal heir certificate is considered in all types of properties, while succession certificate is considered only in movable properties.

Difference between Surviving Member Certificate and Legal Heir Certificate:

A surviving member certificate is a document that certifies the surviving members of a family in case of the death of the head of the family. It is issued by the revenue department of the district where the deceased person resided. A legal heir certificate, on the other hand, certifies the legal heirs of a deceased person. The legal heir certificate is required to claim the assets and properties left behind by the deceased.

How To Add a Legal Heir to File for Income Tax Returns?

How To Add a Legal Heir to File for Income Tax Returns?
Indian Income Tax Return

Even the deceased have to pay income tax. Their legal heir/s are liable to file ITR and pay the calculated income tax on behalf of the deceased proprietor. Steps to follow are – 

  1. The legal heir must open the income tax e-Filing portal.
  2. If you are a registered user, log in using your account details. If not, create a new account by clicking on the ‘register yourself’ option. Provide all the necessary information like PAN, Surname, Middle Name, First Name, Date of Birth, and Residential Status. Complete the registration process.
  3. After successfully logging in, go to ‘my account’ and Register as a representative.
  4. Select New Request from the drop-down menu in the Request Type option.
  5. In the Add/Register as representative section, select Register yourself on behalf of another person from the drop-down menu. 
  6. In the Category to Register section, Select Estate of Deceased from the drop-down menu.
  7. Click on the Proceed option, and you will be redirected to an external page.
  8. Provide all the details like PAN, name of the estate, and date of incorporation of the deceased. 
  9. Make a zip file of size less than 1 Mb that includes documents like a self-attested copy of PAN Card of legal heir, PAN Card of the deceased person, copy of the Death Certificate, Legal heir certificate or Affidavit in the presence of a Notary Public.
  10. After uploading the documents, click on the ‘submit button form where your request will be transferred to the e-Filing Administrator.

Your request will be reviewed by the e-Filing Administrator and will either be accepted or rejected based on the details you provided. In case of acceptance, you will either be appointed as the legal heir or the temporary heir. 

Status of Registration will be sent to the mail id from which you have logged in. You can check the status of the request by accessing the ‘My Request’ tab. Once you have been approved as the legal heir, you can file income tax on behalf of the deceased person.

Inheritance is a complicated legal concept that has several conditions and loopholes that are tough to understand. One such concept is a legal heir certificate. When a person dies intestate, i.e., legal heirs need to get a Waris certificate from the official authorities without leaving any will behind. This heirship certificate enables the heir to access the deceased person’s bank accounts or claim employment benefits. If you’re buying a resale house this is one document that you need to check. Wondering what the other documents are? Get NoBroker Legal services! This team has experts who will guide you on what to look for and how to get it, making your home buying experience a smooth and stress-free one. Click the link below to find out more. 

FAQ’s

Q1. How long does it take for a legal heir certificate to be issued?

Ans. A legal heir certificate takes around 15-30 days to be issued.

Q2. Can a legal heir face penalties on behalf of the deceased person?

Ans. Yes, a legal heir can face penalties on behalf of the deceased person.

Q3. How much amount is required to obtain a legal heir certificate?

Ans. Legal heir certificate requires a stamp of Rs. 2 and a stamp paper of Rs. 20. 

Q4. Who to approach for obtaining the legal heir certificate?

Ans. You must approach the area’s Taluk Tehsildar or corporation/municipality office or the district civil court.

Q5. What are the two types of legal heirs?

Ans. Two types of legal heir – Permanent legal heir and temporary legal heir. 

Q6. What is an acceptable legal heir certificate format?

Ans. Click the link to check the acceptable legal heir certificate format: https://assets1.cleartax-cdn.com/s/img/2018/10/30101917/Legal-Heir-Certificate-Google-Docs.pdf

Q7. How to get a legal heir certificate online?

Ans. To obtain and view legal heir certificate online, log in to the E-district portal and upload necessary documents like ID proof, Death Certificate of the proprietor and affidavit.

Q8. Can legal heir sell property?

Ans. Yes, a legal heir can sell property.

Q9. Who is the legal heir for a father’s property?

Ans. Legal heir for a father’s property includes his wife, his children and his mother.

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Kruthi

Kruthi is a Chartered Accountant has worked for various Real Estate firms across India, she is well versed with the legal and financial aspects of all real estate transactions. There are numerous documents and plenty of hidden fees that people get lost in, her goal is to shed some light on it all.

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