Here's what to do with Aadhaar, PAN, passport and other official documents after death of holder

New Delhi: 
Covid-19 third wave is expected to hit the country in September. The deadly virus has already claimed millions of lives worldwide and people have lost their loved ones. During such challenging times when people are losing their family and friends, not many people know what to do with the deceased person's official documents and government IDs such as PAN card, Aadhaar Card, VoterID card, passport etc.

These documents are extremely important and so you must know how long you are supposed to keep these after the death of the holder and how can you surrender these IDs and documents to the respective governing institutions. Here's what you should do with PAN, Aadhaar, passport etc. of someone who has passed away:

Aadhaar: Aadhaar card is one of the most important documents in the country as it serves as a 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 while availing LPG subsidy, scholarship benefits or subsidy benefits from the government, in case of EPF accounts, ITR filing etc.

Since Aadhaar is meant to be a unique identification number, the number continues to exist even after the demise of the holder. At the moment, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the body governing Aadhaar, is not linked with death registries across states which means that Aadhaar is not automatically updated to reflect the demise of the holder.

Aadhaar is also not mandatory for registration of death or procuring a death certificate. This is why it is important for family members to ensure that the Aadhaar card of the deceased holder is not misused. While UIDAI does not have any process of deactivating or cancelling the Aadhaar card of the deceased person, one can lock biometric credentials of the deceased person's credentials through the mAadhaar app or UIDAI website. This will help prevent misuse of biometric authentication of the deceased person.

PAN: Permanent Account Number card or PAN card is one of the most important financial documents in the country. It is a mandatory record for various purposes such as bank accounts, demat accounts, filing of income tax return (ITR) of the deceased, financial transactions etc. Even after a person has passed, 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 tax department can re-open assessments up to 4 years including the current assessment years. Once all tasks related to closing of bank accounts, demat accounts income tax returns etc. have been taken care of, the representative or the legal heir can surrender the PAN of the deceased person to the income tax department. To do so, one needs to write an application to the assessing officer (AO), under whose jurisdiction the PAN is registered, requesting surrender.

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 the death certificate. Note that surrendering PAN of the deceased is not mandatory meaning there is no penalty if a deceased person's PAN is not surrendered. You may retain it in case you feel that it may be required as a proof for any purpose later on. If you feel there is no need for it and feel that it can be misused, you can surrender it to the tax department

Passport: Like the Aadhaar card, there is no provision for surrender or cancellation upon demise for the passport as well. There is also no procedure for intimating the requisite authorities. However, once the passport has expired, it becomes invalid by default. As per experts, it is wise to retain this document till it is valid as it may come in handy as address proof in unforeseen situations later.

Driving License: Like Aadhaar and passport, while there is no provision for surrender or cancellation of a driver's license of the deceased, each state governs the issue, suspension and cancellation of driver's license separately which is why it is advisable to confirm the state-specific regulations in this respect before doing anything. You can visit the concerned RTO office for the cancellation of the same. You may also confirm the state-specific process of transferring a vehicle registered in the deceased's name to someone else's name.

All important documents of the deceased holder must be kept in a safe place so that they can not be misused by scammers, fraudsters and other miscreants for something that can get the deceased's family in trouble later.

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