Chavez will be mourned by many of the country's poor, who revered the self-styled revolutionary for using the country's oil riches to fund popular housing, health, food and education programs.
And like-minded Latin American leaders like Cuba's Raul Castro, Ecuador's Rafael Correa and Bolivia's Evo Morales lost a close friend who used his diplomatic muscle and cheap oil to shore up their rule.
Chavez died five months after winning an October election, overcoming a resurgent opposition and public frustration over a rising murder rate, regular blackouts and soaring inflation.
He missed his swearing-in for a new six-year term on January 10, but the Supreme Court approved an indefinite delay.
A new election could offer another shot at the presidency to Henrique Capriles, the opposition leader who lost to Chavez in October.
Until picking Maduro, 50, as his political heir, Chavez had never allowed other leaders to emerge within his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).