Who is a Legal Heir?

A Legal heir is a person who is the lawful beneficiary of the assets of another person who dies without a Will or intestate in legal terms as per the Indian succession laws.

Legal heirs can be categorized into two parts —Class I and Class II heirs.

For example, according to Indian succession law, if a man leaves behind property without a Will, it is primarily passed on to Class I heirs (the widow, children, and mother) in equal share. If there aren’t any Class I heirs, Class II heirs (father, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, brother, sister, and other relatives) can claim the property.

If the owner is a woman, property gets passed on to her husband and children in equal proportion. If none of them are present, the property will go to the heirs of her husband. Failing that, it will go to her parents.

Legal Heir Certificate

The legal heir certificate is an important document for transferring assets upon the sudden passing of a family member to his or her legal heirs. It proves the relationship between the deceased and legal heirs.

The successors of the deceased can apply for legal heir certificates after the death certificate has been obtained from the municipality or corporation. Lawyers usually draft and register the legal heir certificates.

Use of Legal Heir certificate

Heirship certificates sometimes referred to as Varisu certificates, have various uses including claiming

  • Bank Balance
  • Provident fund
  • Life Insurance
  • Family pension
  • Property and other assets
  • Employment in case of provisions
  • And even Government taxes and dues of a deceased person

Who can obtain a Legal heir certificate

In India, the following individuals are considered legal heirs and may claim the estate of a deceased person: The spouse, children, parents, and siblings (“legal heirs”) of the deceased.

How to obtain the legal heir certificate (offline)

A legal heir certificate can be obtained from the local Tehsildar or the Local Corporation or municipality office, as well as from the district civil court. After an investigation, this certificate identifies all the legal heirs of the deceased person. To receive a legal heir certificate, you must follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Death certificate must be obtained from the municipality/corporation office.
  2. The lawful heir of the deceased person must fill and submit the legal heir certificate signed application at the local authority. This application contains the following:
  • Names and addresses of all the legal heirs and their relationship with the deceased
  • Required documents including the death certificate of the deceased person.
  • Affidavit on stamp paper or self-declaration.
  1. Enquiry is conducted by a local Revenue Inspector/administrative officer.
  2. Once the inquiry is completed successfully, the authorized officer issues the Legal heir certificate.
  3. The process of obtaining a legal heir certificate generally takes 30 days. If there is an unnecessary delay in receiving this certificate or the concerned authorities fail to respond, you should then approach the Revenue Division Officer (RDO)/sub-collector.

Applying for a legal heir certificate online

The steps to apply for the legal heir certificate online are as follows:

  1. The heir who has to take the assets should be registered on the income tax e-portal.
  2. Next, click on the option ‘register as a representative’ option.
  3. Choose the option on new request from the drop-down list.
  4. Further, choose the option ‘register on behalf of another person.
  5. After completing all these steps, the heir is required to provide all the details of the deceased person.
  6. Next, upload all the necessary documents.
  7. Then, finally submit the form.
  8. Once the process is completed, it is verified and approved by the e-filing administrator. All the details are further provided by mail.

Documents Required For Obtaining a Legal Heir Certificate

Following is the list of documents required to obtain a legal heir certificate in case of both offline and online methods:

  • Death certificate of the deceased.
  • Signed application form.
  • Identity/Address proof of the applicant. (Address proof of legal heir can be any valid identity proof or telephone/mobile bill, gas bill, bank passbook with the name and address of the legal heir)
  • Date of Birth proof of all legal heirs. (Date of birth proof of the legal heir can be a birth certificate, school transfer/leaving certificate, PAN card, passport, etc.)
  • A self-undertaking affidavit.
  • Address proof of the deceased.

There is a misconception that Succession Certificate or Legal Heir Certificate means the same. But it is not true. For more information about Succession and legal heir certificate please follow the link:

Dr. Sanjay Lunia

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