When Is A Legal Heir Certificate Required, And How Do You Get One?

When a person dies without a Will, legal heirs must produce a legal heir certificate to settle insurance claims, bank accounts, etc.

Versha Jain
November 20, 2023
Legal heir certificate

Legal heir certificate

When someone dies without a Will, the deceased person’s assets go to the legal heirs as per the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. If there is a Will, the estate goes to a person or persons whom the deceased wanted to bequeath the assets; when there is no Will, the succession law will apply to transfer the deceased’s possessions to the legal heirs.   


Advocate Udit Gupta says: “An heir has been defined under Section 3 (f) of the Hindu Succession Act 1956 to mean ‘any person’, male or female, entitled to succeed to an intestate. Intestate has been defined under Section 2(g) of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, to mean a person who has not made any testamentary dispositions regarding his or her property”.   

Under the Hindu Succession Law, legal heirs are categorised as Class I and Class II heirs for Hindu males. Let us see who these are. For males, the succession rules are defined in Section 8 and Section 9 of the Hindus Succession Act. In case a male dies intestate, his property is passed on to the Class I legal heirs—son, daughter, widow, mother, son of a predeceased son, daughter of a predeceased son, son of a pre-deceased daughter, daughter of a pre-deceased daughter, widow of a predeceased son, etc., and if there is no Class I legal heir, it goes to Class II legal heirs.   

In the case of a Hindu female who dies intestate, Section 15 and Section 16 of the Act define the succession rule. According to the Act, the assets are equally passed on to the sons, daughters, and husbands and in absense of these, the assets go to the legal heirs of the husband.  

When Is A Legal Heir Certificate Required?  

The question of legal heir becomes vital when there is no Will, and a dispute arises over the property distribution. In that case, a legal heir certificate is needed to identify the rightful heir or heirs.   

Besides that, the certificate is also required for getting an insurance settlement amount, closing a bank account, mutual funds, or other investments, transferring money to a legal heir account, transferring electricity connection, phone connection, house tax, etc. Furthermore, this certificate is required to get the family pension of a deceased government employee.   

How To Get The Legal Heir Certificate?  

The procedure and turn-around time could be different from one state to another. Gupta says, “One can get a certificate issued by applying to the officer entrusted with the powers for the same as per the state. In Delhi, it is to be filed with the sub-divisional magistrate along with the deceased person’s death certificate and identification proof. Normally, the certificate is issued within 30-45 days after completing all formalities”.   

To claim the property in disputed cases or settle bank and insurance claims, the legal heirs need to get the legal heir certificate.

Related Articles
How Are Nominees Different From Legal Heirs?

Sometimes, people are confused between nominees and legal heirs, and they have misconceptions that the nominee is someone who will inherit the investment after their death. However, the legal heir and nominee are separate entities in the eyes of the law.

landing thumbnail