Is succession certificate required for the immovable property?

Last Updated at: Jul 28, 2022
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On 11 February 2020, the Tripura High Court gave a landmark judgment that no-objection of all legal heirs of a deceased is not necessary for issuance of a survival certificate.

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The death of a loved one is the most dreaded thing that can happen to any family. It can get even more traumatic when the family realises that the deceased has not left a will behind. In such a situation, the family is usually left running from pillar to post, trying to gain access to the property which, in many cases, could be the only saviour from doom.


The Indian Succession Act was established to lay down rules regarding the issuing of succession certificates. They are defined as a legally binding certificate that verifies the authenticity or genuineness of an heir once an individual has become deceased. It also gives the heir the right to inherit assets previously owned by the dead. Its scope regarding debts or collateral such as insurance, hedge funds and shares or bonds as issued by the central or state government is limited. Its primary function is to assist the heir in collecting debts that the deceased was entitled to and also to ensure that the succession laws are duly followed. It also affords protection to people paying back their obligations to the recently dead while he or she was alive.

Banks and financial institutions ask for a succession certificate when releasing funds to a certain nominee who might not be registered as the legal beneficiary. In such circumstances, arguments and fights are bound to arise, and it is here that the certificate holds the most value. The document once assessed leads to the resolution of such disputes by legally deciding to whom the money must go to in situations like these. Similarly, it comes handy, when a large inheritance allowance is to be issued, and the heir’s legitimacy has to be validated.

Certain states have made it mandatory for the individual to possess a copy of the will and succession certificate if he or she is to transfer an improbable property. The Court charges a fixed percentage of the asset’s value as fees which can be paid as judicial stamp papers of the specified amount.

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How to obtain a Succession Certificate

  • The beneficiary must file a petition to procure a certificate at a court.
  • The certificate may be granted by a District Judge under whose jurisdiction the property being discussed lies or a Judge under whose authority the deceased lived.
  • The petition must mention the name of the beneficiary, his or her relationship with the deceased, names of other heirs and details regarding the death. The death certificate must also be attached to the petition.
  • The court will then issue a notice to the concerned parties and publicises a time frame within which objections might be raised by anyone. If no objection is raised, the court issues a certificate to the beneficiary.
  • In the case of multiple beneficiaries, a joint certificate is issued. No property will have multiple certificates that are legally binding.

The Judge thereby gives the petitioner the right to

  1. either receive interests and dividends attached to the assets
  2. or transfer the asset
  3. or do both. (accept benefits as well as transfer)

In the case of a Will is present

If a Will has been left behind, a succession certificate may not be necessary as the assets will be split as per the will by an executor. Though the need for a succession certificate has not been explicitly mentioned when a Will is present, several states in India, require both probate and a succession certificate if one is to transfer any immovable property.

In the absence of a Will, most financial institutions rely on the succession certificate to split assets. As per Section 370 of the Indian Succession Act, if the deceased person has left behind a legally binding will, then a succession certificate cannot be issued as the executor of the Will is expected to carry out whatever the Will asks him or her to do.

Legal Heirship Certificate V/S Succession Certificate

Documents such as legal heirship certificate and death certificate may act as an alternative to a succession certificate for proving the authenticity of the heir. These aid in the transfer of assets as they are easier to obtain. While an heirship certificate identifies the heirs of the deceased a succession certificate establishes the authenticity of the heirs and also gives them the right to inherit debts and transfer assets.

In some instances, a legal heirship certificate works better than a succession certificate because kin can obtain it faster.  Hence, families prefer to file for the heirship certificate rather than wait for a succession certificate. If a legal heirship certificate is not accepted, then they move on to apply for the succession certificate. Tahsildars and talukdars usually issue heirship certificates though they are not conclusive and hence do not work under every circumstance. For instance, in case of disputes within family members on who the rightful heir is, a certificate cannot be issued until a court of law has resolved the matter.

Revocation of the Succession Certificate

The certificate may be revoked for these causes:-

  • The certificate was obtained through a defective or fraudulent process.
  • Certificate becomes useless due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • Decree of another court under whose jurisdiction the deceased falls revokes the certificate.
  • Appeal to High Court deems it revoked.

What is a Succession Certificate for Immovable Property?

The certificate gives an heir the authority to realise the debts of the deceased. In the of a will, heirs are required to prove their claims to them. For a movable property like the provident fund, bank deposits, shares and loans the succession certificate is required. For an immovable property like land or jewellery, the letter of administration must also be submitted.

In the case of bank accounts and provident fund, a nominee handles proceedings after the death of the individual but in case of dispute, a succession certificate is required to release the assets. Also, if the amount involved is substantial, a succession certificate may be asked for by the financial institution handling the claim.