Challenges in claiming provident fund without nomination



The process to claim deposits in a provident fund (PF) account in the absence of a nomination after the death of the account holder is relatively less cumbersome than what banks follow. The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) scheme clearly states that the proceeds are equally distributed among family members of the deceased. 

“Family includes spouse, children (whether married or unmarried), dependent parents, dependent parents of husband in case of a female member, deceased son’s widow and children,” said Maneet Pal Singh, partner, I.P. Pasricha & Co. 

The ‘family’ members need to fill out Form 20 along with a list of all the surviving members as on the date of death of the account holder provided by the company with whom the account holder was last employed. If an employer is not available, the list should be sourced from an executive magistrate. Other documents that are needed include the death certificate of the account holder and a copy of a cancelled blank cheque. 

“Once all the documents are provided and the claim is accepted the EPF Commissioner will settle the claim in 30 working days from the day the receipt of the claim is submitted,” said Singh.

Further, whether the PF account is with Employees’ Provident fund Organization (EPFO) or a private trust will also determine the claim settlement time. “In case the deceased person had deposited his/her PF with a private PF trust, then family members would need to approach the trust/representatives of the employer that has set up the trust for the settlement process,” said Dorothy Thomas, partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co.

“Process for claiming money from a private PF trust compared to EPFO should be faster since the employer is expected to have relevant records of the account holder to process such claims,” said Narendra Dingankar, partner, Pioneer Legal.

The process, however, gets tricky if the account holder has left a Will but not a nomination. “The claimants under a Will are asked to produce probate of the Will or a succession certificate/letters of administration to make a valid claim. This is a precautionary measure followed to avoid future challenges and entertain genuine claims. Generally, in uncontested matters, obtaining a probate or succession certificate or letters of administration could take at least 5-6 months,” said Dingankar.

Generally, an additional requirement to execute a Will is to get witnesses.

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