Who Are Legal Heirs? 5 Things You Need To Know

When an individual dies without a Will, the succession laws apply to transfer the deceased person’s assets to the legal heirs.

Outlook Money
November 17, 2023
Creating A Will

Creating A Will

The legal heirs of an individual can be a wide circle of relatives comprising the immediate family members and relatives depending on who is alive to stake claim to a property or properties in the absence of a will.


Who Are Legal Heirs Of A Deceased Person?

The immediate family members include spouses, children (married or unmarried) and parents, and relatives can comprise grandchildren, great-grandchildren, brothers, sisters, children of the second wife, and children born out of wedlock or unmarried couple.

Under the Hindu succession law, each of these individuals will get a right to the property in equal share, first to the immediate family members or Class I heirs and, after that, to relatives or Class II heirs if there aren’t Class I heirs. Furthermore, if the owner is a Hindu woman, her husband and children will get her possessions in equal proportion, and if none are present, the assets will go to her husband’s heirs. If they are unavailable, the property will go to her parents.

Amendment to Hindu Succession Act in 2005

The amendment has given married daughters the same rights to their parents’ property as their sons. However, if the deceased person does not have children, a spouse or parents as the immediate legal heirs, then the property will go to the deceased’s grandchildren, then to brothers and sisters and so forth. All these people can obtain a legal heir certificate.

If the deceased person has a second wife, legally wedded after the first wife’s divorce or death, she will also be considered a legal heir. Her children and the first wife’s children will also be regarded as legal heirs of the deceased. Children born out of wedlock are also legal heirs.

What is A Legal Heir Certificate, and why is it required?

A legal heir certificate establishes the deceased’s relationship with the legal heirs. For instance, the spouse, children, and parents will require the certificate to transfer the ownership of assets to themselves. It can be obtained after procuring the death certificate from a municipality, corporation, or any other authorised body. All eligible successors must obtain this certificate to claim the deceased person’s property. The certificate is also required to process the deceased employee’s pension, dues such as salary arrears, provident fund (PF), gratuity, etc., and even for employment on compassionate grounds from the government.

How To Apply For A Legal Heir Certificate

All eligible legal heirs can obtain the certificate, which names all the deceased person’s legal heirs and their addresses, from the “Thasildhar”, corporation or municipality office or the district civil court after a thorough enquiry. They must provide all necessary documents, including an application, the deceased person’s death certificate, and an affidavit on a stamp paper declaring their relationship. After the enquiry is completed, the certificate will be issued.

How Is A Legal Heir Certificate Different From a Succession Certificate?

A legal heir certificate is needed for various purposes like approval for a family pension, getting a job on compassionate grounds from the government, or transferring the ownership rights of the deceased person’s movable and immovable assets. On the other hand, a succession certificate is required when inheriting any immovable or movable property as defined under the Hindu Succession Act. The district Tahsildar can issue a legal heir certificate to a deceased person’s legal heirs, while a court gives the succession certificate to a dead person’s legal heirs.

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