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Overview of Succession Certificate

A certificate given to the successor of a person who is dead and didn't prepare a will for the distribution of his property to his relatives is called a succession certificate. Such a certificate gives authority and right over the deceased rights and liabilities to his successors. The names of the successors mentioned in the succession certificate are liable for payment of debts and have the power to transfer securities of the deceased.

Such a certificate is issued by a judge of the civil court where he has the legitimate jurisdiction over the successors of the person who died without making a will. It is also termed as Intestate Succession because the person leaves no will his property is distributed through succession.

Before the certificate is issued to the applicant, the court orders an investigation to verify the authenticity of the applicant, who claims to be the successor of the deceased person. Such a certificate contains all the details of the deceased and the legal heirs. The certificate also contains details with regard to all the assets and liabilities of the deceased to be transferred to the successors.

Eligibility for Succession Certificate

There is a specific list of people who are eligible to become successors. These are:

  • The children and wife of the deceased.
  • The siblings of the deceased.
  • The siblings of the deceased.

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Relevant Documents for Succession Certificate

  • An affidavit declaring a self-undertaking
  • Identity proof of the applicant
  • Address proof of all the legitimate successors
  • Birth date proof of all the successors
  • Copy of the death certificate of the deceased
  • Death certificate of a deceased legal heir, if any
  • Residence proof of the deceased.

Procedure to Get Succession Certificate

Writing the Petition

The first step is to pay the required fees in court as per the regulations prescribed. The applicant is then required to draft a petition and submit it before the district judge. The petition should be duly signed by the applicant to get a succession certificate.

Hearing and Publishing

After the petition has been submitted, the judge calls the applicant for a preliminary hearing. After hearing the applicant, if the judge admits the petition, he gives a date for the final hearing to the applicant and informs all other interested people to attend the hearing with regard to the property of the deceased. The court publishes a notice in the newspaper for the interested parties to raise any objections within the prescribed time limit, if any.

Granting the Certificate

If there are no objections raised by people in the given time period, then the judge will decide whether the applicant is eligible to apply for getting a succession certificate or not. After the judge completes the final hearing, the judge grants a succession certificate to the applicant.

Submitting the Bond

To save potential losses to the property of the deceased and misuse of the succession certificate, the applicant has to provide surety or sureties as per the demand of the district judge.

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Succession Certificate Cost

The applicant is under an obligation to pay a court fee from a pre-decided portion of the value of the assets to get a succession certificate. The petitioner is required to pay the cost in the form of judicial stamp papers to receive the succession certificate in a sufficient amount to cover all the costs. After the payment is done, the succession certificate is typed and attested. It is then handed over to the petitioner.

Particulars of the Petition for Succession Certificate

The applicant has to sign and verify the petition for succession certificate before submitting the same to the district judge. There are a few particular details which should be mentioned in the petition by the applicant. These are:

  • Deceased time of death.
  • The residence where the deceased lived before the time of death and if no such residence is available, the proper information about the property that is in the jurisdiction of the district judge to whom such an application is made should be provided.
  • The addresses of all the interested relatives of the deceased.
  • The rights of the applicant.
  • Statement to confirm that there exists no reason to invalidate the granting of the certificate.
  • Details of debts and securities of the applicant.

Validity of Succession Certificate

A succession certificate issued in India is applicable to the whole of India. If a certificate has been granted by an Indian representative to a successor in a foreign country, the certificate is valid if it has been duly stamped as per the provisions of the Court Fees Act 1870. The certificate has the same effect as it has been granted in India.

This certificate is granted to distribute the property of the deceased. It is governed mostly by the personal laws prevailing in India. The people from the Hindu community are governed by the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act. For Indians, the governing law is Indian Succession Act.

Restriction on Succession Certificate

There are certain restrictions over granting of succession certificates. The district court may require the applicant to submit a bond mentioning names of securities to restrict the misuse of the succession certificate and to ensure that the applicant obliges with all the payments and securities.

Revocation of the Succession Certificate

There are certain grounds on which a succession certificate can get revoked. The grounds have been defined under Section 383 of the Indian Succession Act. These are:

  • If the process through which the certificate was being obtained had some defects.
  • If the succession certificate was obtained fraudulently.
  • When the certificate becomes inoperative and useless due to certain situations.
  • A competent court which is dealing with the debts and securities of the deceased passes a decree or order stating that the certificate is revoked.

An appeal shall lie against the order of the district judge to the respective High Court in the case when the district judge refuses to provide the certificate or revokes the same.

Difference Between the Legal Heir and Succession Certificate

There are several differences between a legal heir and a succession certificate. These are as follows:

  • Both certificates are different in nature. A direct family member such as a husband, wife, and child can apply for a succession certificate for the property of the deceased. Such certificate is granted for the purposes like transferring of bank account, telephone connection, payment of taxes, etc of the deceased to the legal successor. The certificate is also used for the inheriting property of the deceased under the prevailing property laws, whereas a legal heir certificate can be granted to the family of the deceased who was working as a government employee for the purposes of receiving a pension, job to the family member, and transfer of movable and immovable property, etc.
  • A succession certificate is granted by the district judge to the successors of the deceased, whereas a legal heir certificate is issued by the tehsildar to the legal heirs of the deceased.
  • Any legal heir of the deceased is eligible to apply for a succession certificate, whereas only children, wife, husbands or parents of the deceased can apply for a legal heir certificate.
  • The main purpose of a succession certificate is for the transfer or distribution of property for payment of debts or security of the deceased person or for collection of debts or securities on behalf of the deceased, whereas the legal heir certificate is for seeking pension, insurance, other retirement claims, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

A succession certificate is granted to the successors of the deceased who made no will before death whereas probate is a process to validate a will as the legitimate and last will of the deceased.

A legal heir certificate is issued to find out the actual beneficiaries of the deceased and identifies the beneficiaries of the deceased, whereas a succession certificate is granted to the successors of the deceased for various purposes such as the use of assets and other property of the deceased.

A succession certificate includes details of the deceased, including the time of the death and a declaration of an intestate death, the chosen successor and its relationship with the deceased, all the assets and liabilities of the deceased,permission granting authority to the successor.

After an application has been filed by the applicant for the issue of a succession certificate, the court notifies all the legal heirs and other relatives to raise any objections as to why such certificate shall not be granted to the applicant for reasonable reasons.

A substitute for a succession certificate can be a legal heir certificate, death certificate or nomination. These other necessary papers can be obtained to prove the inheritance of property or to perform the certain transfers of property of the deceased.

No. A legal heir certificate is different from a succession certificate. Both of the certificates are used for different purposes.

Yes, the wife belongs to the legal heirs of class I as per the Indian Succession Act of 1925.

Yes, as per the conditions mentioned under Section 383 of the Indian Succession Act, a succession certificate can be revoked. Some of the grounds include receiving of the certificate by fraudulent means and methods, or the procedure to obtain the certificate was defective.

A succession certificate is issued by the judge of the district court where the deceased last lived before his death. If such a place is not found, then the jurisdiction lies to such judge where any of the deceased's property is situated.

A succession certificate is required in cases where the person deceased made no will for disposal and distribution of his property.

The cost is calculated as per the prevailing provisions under the Court Fee Act, 1870. A certain percentage of the value of the asset is considered as the cost. Such cost has to be paid in the form of judicial stamps.

The steps are as followed:

  • Drafting of the petition
  • Hearing of the applicant and publishing of notice
  • Grant of succession certificate
  • Submission of bond

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