INHERITANCE / DISTRIBUTION OF PROPERTY LAWS:
Law of inheritance in Pakistan is different for Muslims, Hindus, and Christians etc., keeping in view their respective religious background. In case of legal heirs of a Muslim deceased person, all shares of the estate or property are distributed according to Islamic laws. There is no concept of will, one cannot transfer or bequeath whole of property to any one legal heir through Will but consent of the other legal heirs are required. The share of every legal heir will depend upon the closeness of his/her relationship with the deceased. There is no universal formula to adopt but every case is different from other case. Share of property to respective legal heir depends upon the fact that how many children, wives, sisters, brothers and other relatives deceased had.
Inheritance law governs the rights of a decedent’s survivors to inherit property. This statutory right of a surviving spouse hinges on whether a state follows the community property or common law approach to spousal inheritance. Children and sometimes grandchildren, also have a right to claim an inheritance when a parent or grandparent dies. Community property is generally property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. This includes income received from work, property bought during the marriage with income from employment, and separate property that a spouse gives to the community. A spouse retains a separate interest in property acquired through the following methods:
- Inheritance or a gift.
- Acquisition of the property prior to the marriage.
- An agreement between the spouses to keep the property separate from the marriage community.
When a person dies, Succession Certificate is required to be taken from the Court of Law in order to transfer the assets / property of the deceased person among his legal heirs. All the procedure for Succession Certificate has to be followed in accordance with the Succession Act 1925.
How to obtain Succession Certificate:
Legally, the application for obtaining Succession Certificate can be filed by the legal heirs of the deceased person in the competent Court in two ways:
Firstly, one legal heir can file petition with the consent of all the other legal heirs. During proceedings, all the legal heirs record their statements rendering No Objection for the issuance of succession certificate in favor of the Petitioner i.e. the legal heir who filed this petition. In such circumstances, Court would grant the Succession Certificate to one legal heir who would make himself responsible to distribute the property among other heirs after wards.
By the second way to obtain succession certificate, all legal heirs collectively apply for Succession Certificate and upon satisfaction, Court issue Certificate to all of them according to their respective shares.
The Succession Certificate could be obtained by the widow of the deceased by filing petition in the competent court. In case if the legal heirs of the deceased include minor children, his widow would be entitled to obtain the Succession Certificate on behalf of the minor children as their natural guardian. The Law stipulates that no one should be deprived of his / her legal rights. Keeping in view the same principle, when any application for granting Succession Certificate filed before the Court, first of all Court issues orders to publish the case in newspapers to see if there are any other claimant of the deceased property. If no other claimant appears before the Court after such publication, then the Court grants the Succession Certificate to the Petitioner applied. In case, someone appears before Court and claim to be one of the legal heirs of deceased, then the Court would have to decide the matter after going through the evidence regarding the claim.
Inheritance of Property During the Lifetime:
A Muslim has an absolute right over his property during his lifetime and he can donate the same if he desires to do so before his death. After the death of such donor, no one has a right to claim the same, even his legitimate heirs, cannot challenge his decision. When a Muslim citizen dies, the issues of Inheritance are to be adjudicated by those where the deceased is lastly domiciled. If this issue is challenging, or unknown, then such adjudication depends upon the location of the property. If a deceased foreigner is a non-Muslim, and the National Laws of his country permits the applicability of Inheritance Laws of that country where he is domiciled, or of that country where the deceased’s property is located, in that case the laws of that foreign country will be applicable in Pakistan.
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