Published on
21 Jun 2023
4 min read

Initial Steps: Navigating Death Certification and Will Validation

Monika Taparia
Sep 11, 2023

The loss of a loved one brings a tide of emotions and, unfortunately, a wave of legal responsibilities. In these trying times, it is often the executor of the deceased's estate who must ride out these waves. Today, we will guide you through the first crucial steps that an executor needs to take: procuring a death certificate and validating the will, also known as probate.

Securing a Death Certificate: The First Step

A death certificate is a legal document that officially records the death of a person. It provides essential details like the cause, date, time, and place of death. The responsibility of procuring the death certificate typically falls on the immediate family members or relatives of the deceased

In India, the process of procuring a death certificate commences with the registration of death. Here's the general procedure:

1. Registering the Death: The death must be registered with the local authorities within 21 days of its occurrence. This registration can be done by the closest relatives or the person who is in charge of the deceased's property.

2. Application for Death Certificate: After the registration, an application for the death certificate must be made. This application should be submitted to the local municipal authority, accompanied by a letter from the person who performed the last rites.

3. Issuance of Death Certificate: After the verification of the application, the authority will issue the death certificate, which usually takes about 7 to 10 days.

Remember, multiple copies of the death certificate might be required for different administrative procedures, so it's wise to request more than one copy.

Validating the Will: Understanding Probate

Once you've obtained the death certificate, the next step is to get the will validated through a legal process known as probate.  Probate is a court-supervised process that confirms the authenticity of the will and grants the executor the authority to administer the deceased's estate.

In some cases — and only in particular jurisdictions, such as Mumbai, Kolkota, and Chennai — the executor of the will may be required to petition for probate in order to legitimise it.

In India, probate is mandatory in certain cases, especially when the will pertains to immovable property. The timeline for the probate process can vary significantly, ranging from several months to even a year or more, depending on the complexity of the will and the legal jurisdiction.

Navigating the Probate Process

Understanding the probate process can be a daunting task, so let's break it down into simple steps:

1. Filing the Petition: The executor, as named in the will, must file a petition for probate (if the particular situation asks for it) in the jurisdiction where the deceased resided. The court then announces a hearing date.

2. Notifying Beneficiaries and Creditors: The court requires that all beneficiaries and creditors be notified of the pending probate hearing. This provides an opportunity for them to contest the will or the appointment of the executor, if they so choose.

3. Court Hearing: The court hearing establishes the legality of the will. If there are no contests, the court will grant probate, thereby confirming the executor's authority to administer the deceased's estate.

4. Administering the Estate: Once the court grants probate, the executor can begin the process of managing and distributing the assets as per the will's instructions.

Parting Thoughts

We understand that the journey of being an executor can be overwhelming, with many responsibilities to manage and potential complications to tackle. That's where AasaanWill steps in.

At AasaanWill, we aim to make estate planning as straightforward as possible. We provide a simple, quick, and affordable way to create a legally valid will from the comfort of your home. We offer detailed guidance on all stages of estate planning, helping you understand the nuances of will-writing, executor responsibilities, and probate.

The steps of securing a death certificate and navigating the probate process are just the first hurdles in the executor's journey. Though these tasks can be daunting, they are crucial to ensuring that the deceased's wishes are honoured and that their legacy is preserved. After all, a smooth beginning can pave the way for a smooth transition of assets, setting the tone for a seamless estate administration.

With proper knowledge, foresight, and resources like AasaanWill, you can navigate your executor responsibilities effectively. Despite the challenges, the role of an executor can be a fulfilling one, allowing you to honour your loved one's last wishes and ensure a smooth, fair asset transition.