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What Are the Inheritance Laws in Pakistan?

Updated: Oct 22, 2023


Inheritance Laws in Pakistan Document saying last will and testament

One of the most critical and confusing issues in Pakistan legal issues is inheritance laws. As a result, many family disputes result when individuals are not aware of their legal rights as heirs.


This article explains inheritance law in Pakistan and how you can obtain a succession certificate and a letter of administration for movable and immovable assets, respectively. This article also explains what are women’s rights when it comes to inheritance, as this is often misquoted and misinterpreted.


What the Law Says about Inheritance in Pakistan


According to Pakistan law, all individuals are considered legal heirs and entitled to receive movable and immovable property. The way property is distributed among family members differs according to the sect and religion.


In the case of inheritance law, the Sharia law is followed for everyone irrespective of their faith, and the main statues that govern this law are:

  • Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961

  • The West Pakistan Muslim Personal Law, 1962

  • Succession Act 1925

  • Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Act, 2020

  • Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Rules, 2021

The domicile of the deceased individual will determine which judiciary will decide the inheritance distribution. If the domicile is in question, then the property distribution will occur in the courts where the property is located. The NADRA office, the place where the deceased resides or where the assets are situated, is usually the location where the certificates are issued. If, for some reason, NADRA declines to issue the certificate, then the concerned parties can approach civil courts.


The courts can be where the deceased resided, died or the area where the property is located.


If the deceased has created a will, then the distribution of property will be according to the will's instructions. Provided that the will not for more that 1/3rd of the total assets of the deceased.


The most crucial step in starting the distribution of property among heirs is to obtain a succession certificate for movable assets and a letter of administration for immovable assets.


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Steps to Obtain Succession Certificate

The Succession Act of 1925 governs the law for succession certificates. It is important to note that the certificate is obtained to distribute movable and immovable assets. Any heir can apply for the succession certificate. In some cases, one legal heir can apply for the succession certificate when the other heirs give them the authority to do so.

The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has streamlined and made the process easier. This makes it easier for Pakistanis presently residing abroad to use the online portal to obtain the certificate through NADRA. If, for some reason, NADRA is unable to issue the certificate, then the legal heirs can approach the civil courts.

Every province has their own online portal, and the NADRA site has the steps required for Islamabad, Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Generally, the following steps are required to obtain a certificate.


1. Start the Application Process

Start the application process by providing the heir's National Identity Card numbers and a death certificate for the deceased. Other information will be obtained regarding the deceased, including their CNIC number, religion and sect of the deceased and biometric verification of the application.


2. Establish the Legal Heirs and NADRA Verification

After the application process starts, the legal heirs will verify their identities through the NADRA verification process and biometrics. Each heir must provide their CNIC, gender, religion, mobile number, email ID and relation with the applicant and deceased. Under Pakistani law, legal heirs include sons and daughters, parents, grandparents, widows/widowers, grandsons and granddaughters (if their father predeceased the deceased), full siblings, and half-siblings.


3. Details of Moveable and Immovable Assets

There are two types of assets, movable and immovable. Movable includes gold, cash, vehicle and stock. Immovable is, in most cases, property or different kinds of real estate. All details regarding the immovable and movable property must be submitted to NADRA. This includes value and descriptions of assets and share of legal assets amongst heirs. Necessary documents will be scanned and saved in the database at this time.


4. Public Notice and 14-Day Wait Period

Advertisements will be made based on a set pattern determined by NADRA in one English and one Urdu newspaper. If no one contests the distribution of the property after 14 days, then the application will be approved. If there is an objection, this will be logged into the system and raised in the application. A court will then award the succession certificate, and the applicant will be reimbursed their fee from NADRA.


5. Succession Certificate Issued

If there is no objection after 14 days, a certificate will be issued and delivered to the applicant. Once the certificate has been delivered, it will be recorded in the NADRA system. In some cases, NADRA may decline to issue a certificate due to the following reasons:

  • All legal heirs are not available for biometric verification.

  • Some properties are situated in some other province or are outside the jurisdiction of that particular NADRA office.

  • There is a dispute between the legal heirs over the assets.

  • Where there is a factual controversy involved about the assets of the deceased or between the legal heirs.

  • Other reasons

In these specific circumstances, NADRA will issue a decline letter, and the legal heirs will need to approach the civil court to obtain a succession certificate and a letter of administration.


Women’s Right for Inheritance in Pakistan


Knowing women's rights for inheritance is essential before the distribution of property. In 2020 the Women’s Property Rights Bill was passed, which protected women's right to inheritance and possession of property. This Act ensures that women are not harassed, coerced or forced when it comes to property that is legally theirs.

According to Section 498A of the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act (2011), it is unlawful to deprive women of their inheritance in any manner. Any violation of this act will result in punishment that can be as long as five to ten years imprisonment or a fine of 1 million PKR or both.

The law states that women will receive shares of property according to their relationship with the deceased as follows:

  • The wife of the person who died will receive 1/8th share of the immovable or movable asset if she has children. If she does not have children, she will receive only 1/4th.

  • If a child dies and it is a son, the mother of the son will receive 1/6th share of his property. If the son that died did not have any other family members, then the mother would receive a 2/3rd share.

  • Sisters will receive half the share of their brothers from their father’s property in limited circumstances.


Hire Legal Experts for Fair and Equal Distribution of Inheritance Property


It is important to hire legal expertise to understand the legalities of the distribution of movable and immovable property. Legal consultants like Alam & Alam Legal and Financial Consultants can protect your interests and ensure fair distribution of property.

Knowing that you are in trustworthy hands can make the distribution of assets much easier, especially during a stressful time, like in the case of a family member's death.

Call today to get more information on how you can avail of our services.


A & A has provided reliable, trustworthy, and expert legal assistance to individuals, corporations, and firms for the last twelve years. Contact us today to receive a consult and discuss your legal or financial concerns.


Telephone: +92-51-2355777, +92-332-5233523, +92-344-5555588


Email: contact@AlamConsultants.com

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