Nominee vs Legal Heir - Who Gets the Deceased's Assets?

Who is a Legal Heir?

The legal heir is the individual or group of individuals legally entitled to inherit the deceased person's assets and property.

Legal Heir Identification

The deceased's WILL should identify the legal heir as the primary inheritor. If there is no WILL, the property distribution can be done according to the Indian Succession Act of 1925.

Who is a Nominee?

The nominee is just the trustee of the property until the legal heirs are identified & established according to the Succession Act or a WILL.

Why is a Nominee Assigned?

Assigning a nominee facilitates a smooth ownership transition upon the property owner’s demise, ensuring the property is protected until the rightful inheritors can take possession.

According to the rules, the odrer for inheritance will be as follows: Class 1 Class 2 Agnates Cognates Government Inheritance

Rules for Property Inheritance

Class 1 Heirs

They are the first in line to inherit the property. They include: The deceased’s spouse. The deceased’s children. The deceased’s grandchildren (if the children have predeceased them).

Class 2 Heirs

They include: The deceased’s brothers and sisters The deceased’s nephews and nieces (if the deceased's brothers and sisters have predeceased them)


Agnates are male relatives of the deceased, prioritised based on their relationship with the deceased's father. They include: Father's brother Father's brother's son Father's sister's son


Cognates are descendants of a common ancestor, related by blood or adoption, not just through the deceased’s father. Cognates include: Mother's brother Mother’s sister Mother’s sister’s daughter

Government  Inheritance

When neither of the listed heirs is present, the property will be delegated to the government. The government will administer the property until a legal heir is found.

So, Who Inherits the Deceased’s Property?

The legal heir of the deceased inherits the property. Until the legal heirs are identified, the property is transferred to the nominee as a trustee.