Making Succession and Inheritance easier: Inputs Sought

Succession, Inheritance and transfer of assets to heirs post death continues to be a difficult process in India. One where, a common citizen has to touch multiple local bodies like Patwari,Tehsildar, Councillor, Government departments, courts, not so co-operating corporates (in case of share transfer), etc and the process is riddened with bribery and delays and in some cases things just get stuck. Previously, we had taken your inputs on issues, root causes and solutions (listed below) and soon would like to escalate this to the Central Government for their awareness and action. We urge you to think a little differently and suggest how even a new model can be designed where inheritance and succession processing can be centralised, significant steps brought online thereby reducing the step requiring in person interface with officials.

Succession and Inheritance - Solutions

1.Death certificates should be made available online within 7 days of the death being reported
2.The process of getting NOCs should be streamlined
3.Laws regarding succession and inheritance should be reviewed according to the latest circumstances
4.Laws related to succession and inheritance needs to be framed across religion
5.Proper and simplified rules for obtaining a succession certificate should be defined
6.Opening of every account should require a nominee by law
7.A cap on the lawyer’s fees should be put to handle inheritance cases
8.The transparency in the working of the related departments should be increased
9.A customer service counter/helpline could be started to help people with questions
10. Systems should computerized to reduce human interaction, and hence reduce corruption
11.Marriage registration should be compulsory; without registration banking facilities and other facilities should be withdrawn
12.The area Revenue Authority should confirm the list of Successors and the District Collector & Magistrates should issue the Succession Certificate within 30 days from the date of application
13.Nominal fees, fixed by government should be applicable for basic paper work so that no one gets deprived of their rights due to high fees
14.One window system could be started for transferring the properties.

Succession and Inheritance – Root Causes
1.Laws and provisions for succession and inheritance have not been revised in a long time
2.There is corruption in the judicial system at all levels
3.Succession and inheritance cases are tricky ones which need experienced lawyers
4.Nomination is not mandatory in many accounts
5.There is a lack of commitment in the employees in these departments
6.These offices have very limited digitalization
7.Registration of marriage is not mandatory in India
8.There is no clear definition of "separation"
9.Lack of one stable rule which applies to all religions
10.Banks and mutual funds have different forms & procedures for similar kind of work creating hassles for customers.

Succession and Inheritance - Key Issues

1.Death certificate takes a long time to get prepared
2.Getting NOCs from different organizations becomes very tough
3.No concrete laws in this matter
4.The whole procedure of getting a succession certificate takes a very long time in the courts
5.Transfer of shares certificates from the deceased to successors is very difficult, requires court certificate which in turn requires huge deposits.
6.Many accounts do not need a nominee while going through the opening procedures
7.Lawyers charge a huge fee for taking up succession cases (many pay bribes to get work done)
8.Expenses and labour involved in obtaining the succession certificate is another tough ask
9.There is a lack of transparency among cross functional offices
10.The registrar office and staff is very corrupt and getting anything done there takes a lot of time and money
11.There is no customer service department/helpline which could answer the questions which arise in such cases. more  

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Judges handling Inheritance cases must move the process quickly. They get bribes from the litigants and prolong cases by decades, not just years. And the judges get transferred and the incoming judges, who also receives bribes, waste time in re-hashing the cases instead of moving ahead from where the previous judge had progressed. The judges who receive bribes must be summarily dismissed without any process. more  
This is a complicated issue and is a gold mine for Corruption . Even when you hold a valid will/ testament, the concerned Local body authorities don’t effect the change in the case of immovable properties without either bribes or influence. I had this miserable experience twice and each time, it took me over 7 years period, in one case with the influence of Revenue Inspector (official in charge of tax collectors). A friend of mine, an elderly Retired senior Government Doctor (whose husband is also a senior government doctor) took the help of middle man after personal efforts over 2 years. Irrespective of the laws/ rules, severe punishments must be made as part of rules in the event of proven negligence. Nevertheless, the suggestions in resource must be considered in detail and sent to government for consideration. more  
The issue of succession/inheritance certificate, no doubt, is extremely cumbersome and in some cases complex also. In genuine cases as well as in the cases of disputes etc the delays happen because of unawareness of laws and procedures. Although it is a welcome suggestion that Central and State Governments need to review the present system and bring administrative reforms for smooth and efficient documentation work and issuance of succession/inheritance certificate. In addition to this I may be permitted to suggest that every property should be linked to a UID (Adhar) Number together with its linking with every marriage, divorce, birth and death certificates. Local municipal bodies charge property tax so it would be suitable to link with Municipal UID every marriage, divorce, birth, death, will and other deeds related to property matter. This would become a basic source of details of legal heirs entitled to succession/inheritance of property in the order/merit as defined in Indian Succession Act 1925 and other related laws as may be applicable. In villages the work needs to be entrusted to Lekhpals and Gram Panachayat. People who do not have any property will get their data linked to their bank accounts which every Indian is entitled to maintain with zero balance. As an alternative such an entire record can be maintained by a National Depository Agency like NSDL. in the event of death the single authority, whichever is empowered by law, would issue succession/inheritance certificate which will be valid for all purposes. I hope this suggestion would prove to be useful. Thanks and regards Chandramani Lal Srivastava 9315516083 more  
I feel this is good solution too. Another option which any person should try and do is create a legally registered will as the uncertainties in life are increasing. more  
Reduce number of property documents and name change procedures in line with developed countries. We need to preserve physically several documents throughout our life and losing any is a nightmare. Make it digilocker enabled. more  
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