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Why is it Important to Obtain a Death Certificate for Property Claims and How to Obtain It?

Blox Social
Posted on
Nov 18, 2023

A real estate property is a valuable asset that can provide financial stability for future generations. However, when the property owner passes away, it is crucial to obtain the death certificate to establish the inheritors' rightful claim.

What is a death certificate?

According to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act of 1969, the death of a person must be registered with the government within 21 days. When a person is declared dead by a doctor or hospital, the information is sent to the local municipal corporation. The government then issues a legal document called the death certificate. This document contains important details such as the person's name, address, date of birth, date and time of death, and the cause of death. It serves as proof of the person's death, which must be collected by their immediate family. The death certificate is vital in helping the successors and legal heirs establish their claim to the deceased person's property.

Points to remember

  • Since the introduction of the Adhaar, the death certificate is linked to the unique identification number on the card. The family of the deceased person must provide the hospital or the doctor with accurate information for a valid death certificate.
  • In most major cities, the municipal corporation has facilitated e-governance by providing birth and death records in a digital format. This can be downloaded from the corporation's website.
  • If the death is due to unnatural causes such as an accident, an FIR may also need to be registered, and further clearance from law enforcement may also be required.

Property bequeathed through a will

Any self-acquired property can be bequeathed or transferred through the will of the property owner after their death. It is preferable that the will be registered, but this is not compulsory. Along with the will of the deceased person, the death certificate for property claim is an important document. If the will is not registered, an affidavit of the witnesses may also be required.

Intestate succession

In India, when a property owner dies without leaving a will, the respective inheritance law of the property owner's faith is upheld. These laws of succession designate the legal heirs who are entitled to receive a share of the property. The Hindu Succession Act of 1956 and its subsequent amendment in 2005 covers the inheritance laws of the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Arya Samaj followers. It is important to remember that according to prevalent laws, ancestral property cannot be bequeathed in a will, and only self-acquired property may be inherited through the will. In all of these cases, though, any claim to the property can be made only when the previous owner has a valid death certificate.

Importance of death certificate for property claims

The death certificate is the primary evidence of the previous owner's death. It provides a ground for establishing a property claim. Apart from this, it is also an essential document for closing bank accounts, claiming life insurance, and transferring securities to the nominee(s).

In case of property claims and disputes, the death certificate is the primary document to be presented by the claimants. It is also important for coparceners to have the deceased's death certificate in case of a claim to the ancestral property.

Other documents required for property claims

The previous property owner's death certificate is the most important document required for property claims. In many situations, however, the claimant may require one or more of the following documents in addition to the death certificate.

  1. Probate of the will – If there is an existing will, the probate may be deemed compulsory. This is particularly relevant if the will is unregistered. The probate is a court document validating that the will in question is valid and is the final will of the deceased property owner. An executor is appointed in most cases.
  2. Succession certificate – Succession certificate is often required in cases involving movable property or transfer of pension, etc. For example, after a person, Mr X, is deceased, his successor may produce a death certificate and other documentation to gain a succession certificate. This facilitates the successor's claim on Mr X's bank accounts, shares, securities, etc.
  3. Legal heir certificate – A legal heir certificate is different from a succession certificate as it helps the legal heir of a deceased person lay claim to the immovable property in the absence of a will. The legal heir certificate is usually issued by the municipal corporation of the deceased person's residence after a verification process.

Apart from the death certificate for property claims, it is also an essential document that helps provide the family of the deceased with emotional closure.

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