Here is a look at how to deal with different government official documents such as PAN, Aadhaar, passport etc. of someone who has passed away.
Aadhaar number serves as proof of identity and proof of address. It is mandatory to quote Aadhaar number or provide copy of the same in various places such as when availing LPG subsidy, scholarship benefits from government, in case of EPF accounts etc.
Shaikh says, “Aadhaar, by its nature, is meant to be a unique identification number. Therefore, even after demise, the number continues to exist. Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the body governing Aadhaar, is not yet linked with death registries across states and hence Aadhaar is not automatically updated to reflect demise. Currently, Aadhaar is also not mandatory for registration of death or procuring a death certificate.” Naturally, it is important for legal heirs or family members to ensure that there is no misuse of this.
“UIDAI does not have any process of deactivating or cancelling the Aadhaar card of the deceased person and there is no provision to even update information about a holder’s death in the Aadhaar database. As a security measure, to prevent misuse of biometric authentication, legal heirs can get the biometrics of the deceased person locked,” says Amit Jajoo, Partner, IndusLaw.
Locking of biometric credentials of deceased person’s credentials can be done on UIDAI’s website.
How to lock biometrics of Aadhaar number
PAN card is a mandatory record for various purposes such as bank accounts, demat accounts, filing of income tax return (ITR) of the deceased. Thus, the PAN must be retained till all such accounts, where quoting the PAN is mandatory, are closed. In case of filing ITRs, the PAN must be held till the tax return has been filed and processed by the I-T department. Remember that the I-T department has the right to re-open assessments up to 4 years including the current assessment years. Further, if any income tax refund is due to the deceased, then ensure that such amount has been credited into his/her bank account.
Shabnam Shaikh, B. Com and LL.B., Partner, Khaitan & Co says, “Once matters related to closing of accounts, income tax returns etc. have been adequately taken care of, then the representative or the legal heir can surrender the PAN of the deceased person to the income tax department.”
How do you finally surrender the PAN card? To do so, the representative or legal heir needs to write an application to the assessing officer (AO) under whose jurisdiction the PAN is registered. The letter should contain reasons for surrendering (i.e., death of the holder), name, PAN and date of birth of deceased, along with a copy of his/her death certificate. To know the corresponding AO details, one can visit the e-filing website of the income tax department. However, note that surrendering PAN of the deceased is not mandatory and you may retain it in case you feel that it may be required as a proof for any purpose later on.
In case of voter ID, there is a provision under Registration of Electors Rules, 1960, for cancellation upon demise. Jajoo explains, “A legal heir of the deceased person would be required to visit the local election office. A particular form, i.e., Form no. 7 under the Electoral Rules, has to be filled and submitted along with death certificate for cancellation of a person’s name from voters list on account of death.”
Shaikh says, “In respect of a passport, there is no provision for surrender or cancellation upon demise. There is also no procedure for intimating the requisite authorities.” However, once the passport has expired, it by default becomes invalid. However, it may be wise to retain this document because you may wish to use it as proof in unforeseen situations that may come later.
“By and large, there is no provision for surrender or cancellation of a driver’s license of the deceased. However, each state governs the issue, suspension and cancellation of driver’s license separately, so it is advisable to confirm the state-specific regulations in this respect. One can visit the concerned RTO office for the cancellation of the same. Further, heirs may also confirm the state-specific process of transferring a vehicle registered in the deceased’s name to his / her name, says Shaikh.
What if you do not intimate the respective authorities
According to experts, there is no penalty under law if an official document is not surrendered to the concerned institutions. However, Jajoo recommends that one should inform the concerned authorities so that the official documents cannot be misused by miscreants. Enough scamsters are also doing the rounds online these days and preying on gullible people in times of crisis.
Where to keep
Further, it would be advisable that documents such as Aadhaar and passports which cannot be surrendered may be maintained and kept along with the death certificate instead of being destroyed.