4 Essential Documents You Need to Know about Death Claims

The survivors/legal heirs have to go through a number of official procedures while claiming the assets/properties of the deceased owner. During the death claim process the applicants need to produce several documents as proof of their inheritance.

When you inherit your parent's’ assets or other bank accounts, later in life, it may not be a very smooth process. It will definitely not be hassle-free or free of complexities. You might be even dragged into life long legal battles with siblings or relatives you grew up with and who might fight for the same assets and properties even if you may a a clear will from the original property owners. Sounds like a scene from a soap opera? Well,, you might face it yourself, since it is more factual than science fiction.

Most families are not very good at estate planning especially for the future. The current life takes center stage and hence people bother more on survival than planning for the future. This is when children and legal heirs suffer later, due to the lack of a little bit of pro activeness when making these huge decisions. To avoid such issues here are some essential documents and processes which one needs to be aware of, to be able to deal with legal issues faster when making a death claim.

4 Important Documents required to Claim an Asset after death

So, incase you want to avoid all these mistakes, here are the four most important documents you would want to keep close to or ensure are in place.

  1. The Death Certificate: One of the most crucial documents at the time is the Death Certificate. It is indeed that one document which is an absolute necessity no matter what. This certificate is a document which certifies officially that the person in question is dead. Death certificates also are an official record of the the date and time of death, which in most cases is also a crucial information for a life insurance claim. Also, according to the Registration of Births & Deaths Act, 1969, it is compulsory to register the death within 21 days of its occurrence and if someone is late, more paperwork and extra charges will be the additional headache that you will have to take. The Death Certificate is generally issued by the Municipal Corporation (Urban areas) or Gram Panchayat (in the case of rural areas) after the death is properly verified by the Municipal Corporation or the Gram Panchayat. This certificate is a necessity for all the institutions including Banks/Fund Houses/Insurance Companies regardless the presence of a WILL or nominations. This should be obvious since you need to first prove a person has expired before you make a death claim against his or her name. So ensure that you take death certificates immediately after the demise of the concerned person. Also based on the nature of his or her death, the process of obtaining death certificate varies. If its death at home due natural causes not much is required. However, if it is a death by accident or murder etc, a copy of the FIR may also be required. So ensure that you get this document after the death, although it might take some time for the running around, it is totally worth it.

  2. Claim Application Form: This form needs to be filled by you at the time of making the claim. Depending on the asset type, the organisation will provide you. Each bank has its own claim application form, Post Office has its own and mutual funds companies have their own forms. You also have to give your bank details or other KYC details if the assets has to be transferred to your account like in case of shares in demat account or mutual funds portfolio.

  3. Probate of WILL: One needs to register the WILL. Also ensure that you have consulted a lawyer at the same time. A “Probate of WILL” is required from Court which certifies that the WILL is authentic. So if you have to claim an asset and the WILL you have questions, you will need to get Probate from court to prove that the WILL is authentic.

  4. Succession Certificate: Succession Certificate is necessary when there is no written WILL, absence of nomination, or when your names not on nominee list, but you want to claim the asset because you are legal heir (you know about it, but there is no legal document saying that). At that time, you will have to bring succession certificate from court, which is a proof that you are a valid legal heir. There are several laws revolving around it. This is the time that you would definitely need a lawyer for sure considering that you will have to deal with a million questions and verifications.

    It is indeed essential ultimately ensure even as a parent or a legal guardian to make sure the nominations, WILLs as well as other documents are taken care of, at least in this time and age when getting help is never too difficult.

What is To Be Done For Death Claims?

When the asset holder expires, a few weeks or months of his or her demise there will be a time to claim their assets and properties. At the time, there are several paperwork and procedures to take care of . This includes taking care of the following claims:

  • Saving bank accounts
  • Bank lockers
  • Fixed deposits
  • PPF (Public Provided Funds)
  • EPF (Employee Provided fund)
  • Mutual Funds
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • NSC
  • Real Estate Property
  • Bonds (If any)
  • Stocks and Shares
  • Post Office Deposits

No matter how agile you are, it will be quite overwhelming when you have to chase people for claim procedures of all the above financial products and issues. There will be several verification and processes that are indeed very critical for the banks, mutual funds houses, or companies to ensure that the assets are passed on to the right hand, or whoever is entitled to legally get it and not just random people making the claim.

So there will be documents which will be required, forms that will need to be filled and rounds to be made to the court to obtain some documents despite all the frustration and disappointment for the family member of the deceased. So, putting the nominations and will in place is just the tip of the iceberg.

Major Mistakes Made By Investors for Death Claims

These mistakes may happen due to ignorance or even because of a casual attitude of investors. Your parents or you might be doing these following mistakes.

  • Not mention a name in Nomination when a bank account or fixed deposit account is opened.
  • Once a nominee has expired it is necessary to change the nominee name immediately. This generally happens when a spouse or parent nominee expires.
  • Receipts and important documents are not organized and kept at an accessible place.
  • Property or account holders do not leave a will with the help of a lawyer.
  • A WILL is written but people miss the registration process.
  • Sometimes even the registration is done but none of the family members are made aware about it.
  • They miss out on proper paperwork especially when they execute a buy/sale transaction.
  • Unfortunately a lot of people still rely on verbal communication which is the worst mistake that one can do.

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