The 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:
When a person dies, a 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.
Legally, the application for obtaining a 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 a 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 afterward.
By the second way to obtain a succession certificate, all legal heirs collectively apply for Succession Certificate and upon satisfaction, the Court issue a Certificate to all of them according to their respective shares.
The Succession Certificate could be obtained by the widow of the deceased by filing a 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 an application for granting Succession Certificate is filed before the Court, first of all, the Court issues orders to publish the case in newspapers to see if there are any other claimants 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 the deceased, then the Court would have to decide the matter after going through the evidence regarding the claim.
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 a 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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Legal heirs can get certificates within 15 days by applying directly to NADRA instead of courts
Upon death of any family member, legal heirs languish in courts for years before they are able to obtain Letters of Administration (for immovable properties) and Succession Certificates (for movable properties). Now without going to the Courts, the legal heirs can obtain Letters of Administration or Succession Certificates, as the case may be, through a quick five stage process faciliated by Succession Facilitation Units operated by the National Database Registration Authority. Presently, one Facilitation Unit is operative in Islamabad dealing with properties/assets in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) only. Shortly, NADRA will establish many more Succession Facilitation Units in other cities of Pakistan.
The Applicants have to submit a simple application form after which NADRA will issue public notice in leading local newspapers and on its website. Where no objections are received within fourteen days, the legal heirs whether in Pakistan or abroad (London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford, Jeddah, Riyadh, Medina, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha) can visit their local NADRA office in Pakistan or the Pakistan Missions abroad, as the case maybe, in the above mentioned cities and conduct bio-metric cerification. Once verification of the legal heirs is complete through bio-metrics, Succession Certificate or Letter of Administration will be issued in Applicant’s favour. Apart from the abovementioned cities, the Government at the earliest is creating bio-metric verification centres in many other cities of the world.
Procedure for applying the Letters of Administration/Succession Certificates is as follows:
Application Initiation: The applicant will provide his/her National Identity number, deceased person’s death certificate and National Identity number. Along with the application, the Applicant shall submit letter of authorization from all the legal heirs to file application on their behalf.
Legal Heirs and Assets Details: The applicant will provide the relevant details of legal heirs, and information pertaining to the moveable and immovable assets of deceased.
Verification and Consent of Legal Heirs: All legal heirs mentioned by the applicant will visit NADRA’s Registration Center for biometric verification and details provided by applicant will be verified.
Advertisement in Newspaper: NADRA will publish the notice to the public at large for ascertaining if there are any objections on the particular application.
Printing and Delivery of Certificate: If there are no objections after 14 days of publication of the notice, the Succession Certificate/Letter of Administration will be printed and given to the applicant.