A 67-year-old man has been unable to claim inheritance of his grandparents' apartment because he can't prove they're dead.
Xu Yiqing said the red tape began when authorities in Yichang, Hubei Province refused to put the property in his name without death certificates.
The fact that his grandparents were born over 130 years ago has not convinced the courts or police, Xu said.
Xu has been pleading his case to local agencies since 2015 in the hopes they can issue the proper paperwork, reported Xinhua News Agency.
But obtaining death certificates for relatives who were born during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) has proven a bit of a challenge.
Xu said he even filed a lawsuit against his two sisters - on the advice of their lawyer - in order to show no relatives were contesting ownership.
But the court ruled against Xu, claiming the three siblings had not proven they were the only ones who stood to inherit the property.
"The bizarre necessity of this document is a stumbling block that harms social justice and the efficiency of administration," said Wang Shouyi, assistant dean of the Institute of Law and Public Administration, China Three Gorges University.