How to Procure a Succession Certificate and Legal Heir Certificate

Last Updated at: Oct 27, 2020
Latest news update:

In a recent judgment, the Madras High Court has ruled that only the husband and children of a woman are the legal heirs after her death. In the instant case, the judge cancelled the certificate issued earlier by the concerned Tahsildar that included the mother of the deceased as the legal heir. The Tahsildar was also asked to issue a fresh one on or before February


Succession Certificate

According to the Indian Succession Act, 1925 a succession certificate is defined as a certificate issued by a court to the legal heirs of a deceased person to establish the legitimacy of the heirs and give them the power to inherit shares, securities, debts and other assets of the deceased. The purpose of a succession certificate is limited in respect of shares, securities, debts and also provident fund, deposits in banks, insurance, or any other security of the central government or the state government to which the deceased person was entitled to. The main objective of the succession certificate is to facilitate the collection of the debts on succession and give protection to the parties paying debts to the representatives of the deceased person.

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Procuring a Succession Certificate

1)   The legal heir needs to approach the competent court and file a petition for procuring the succession certificate.

2)   The District Judge within whose jurisdiction the deceased person generally resided during the time of his death, or, if at that time there was no particular place of residence, the District Judge, within whose jurisdiction any part of the property of the deceased person may be found, may grant the succession certificate accordingly.

3)   The petition should contain all the important details such as the name of the petitioner, relationship with the deceased person, the names of all the heirs of the deceased, time, date and place of death.

4)   Along with the petition, death certificate and any other important documents that the court may require should also be attached.

5)   The court, after scrutinizing the petition, issues a notice to all concerned parties and also issues a notice in the newspaper and stipulates a time frame (usually one and a half months) within which anyone who has any kind of objections may raise them. If no one contests the notice and the court is contented, it passes an order to issue a succession certificate to the petitioner.

When the District Judge grants the succession certificate, he shall specify the shares, securities, and debts set forth in the application for the certificate, and may thereby authorize the person to whom the certificate is granted-

(i) To receive the interest or dividends on the securities (OR)

(ii) To transfer or negotiate the securities.

Legal Heir Certificate

A number of the other documents such as legal heir certificate, death certificate, and nominations may be procured, as a substitute to a succession certificate, for the purpose of establishing an inheritance or aiding in the transfer of shares, securities and debts from the deceased person.

In some cases, a legal heir certificate may be trusted upon in the place of a succession certificate merely because family members are able to obtain a legal heir certificate with much affluence and speed. Therefore, families in general first apply for a legal heir certificate and in the event, if the legal heir certificate is not accepted by the significant authority for any kind of reason, then a succession certificate is applied.

A legal heir certificate establishes the relationship of the heirs to the deceased person for claims. Claims relating to the transfer of shares, securities, deposits, debts etc. are generally accepted by the banks and companies if the certificate is provided.

Procuring a Legal Heir Certificate

According to the Indian Succession Act, 1925 there is no prescribed method to obtain a legal heir certificate, but it can be easily issued by revenue officers such as revenue mandal officers or talukdars, tahsildars in every taluk. A legal heir certificate can be issued and relied upon for only limited purposes. Legal heir certificates are not definite when it comes to defining the legitimate class of heirs of a deceased person under the laws of succession or the title of heirs to any undecided property that belonged to the deceased person. In case of any differences between the heirs of the deceased, the revenue officer cannot issue a legal heir certificate and is obligated to direct the heirs to approach a civil court for the determination of the rightful heirs.

Legal Heir Certificate vs Succession Certificate

A legal heir certificate is issued to identify the living heirs of a deceased person whereas succession certificate is issued to establish the legitimacy of the heirs and give them the power to inherit shares, securities, debts, and other assets that the deceased person may have left behind.