What is Succession Certificate and how to obtain it?

Last Updated at: January 16, 2020
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What is Succession Certificate and how to obtain it?

A succession certificate is used to grant authority to the heirs over the debts, securities and other assets of the deceased. It is a certification given by the court, generally preceded by an investigation into heirs, required to ascertain who are the legal heirs of the deceased. Generally a succession certificate includes details of the deceased, details of the legal heir so chosen, the relation between the deceased and the heir, list of debts and assets, grant of authority, the details of the death of the deceased and a declaration of an intestate death. In this article we will cover the following points:

  • What is a succession certificate? 
  • What is the procedure for obtaining a succession certificate?

What is a succession certificate? 

For people who die intestate leaving back their assets, securities and debts, the court intervenes to grant a certificate of succession to the legal heirs of the person so deceased. If a person has deceased without the preparation of a will with regard to the distribution of his assets and property, then the person is said to have died intestate. Therefore, in such a situation of an intestate death, a succession certificate entitles the holder of the certificate to settle down the debts and securities and take over the remaining assets of the deceased person. Apart from the entitlement to securities and assets, a succession certificate also provides indemnity to all persons owing such debts or liable on such securities with regards to all payments made to or dealings had in good faith with a person to whom a certificate as granted. 

Generally, in movable properties, a succession certificate is not required to establish ownership over the property of the deceased. It generally plays a crucial role when another legal heir contests the ownership and possession of the legal heir in whose possession it continues to be. Alternately, it will be necessary if the matter goes to court. In case of immovable assets, however, a succession certificate would be necessary for the legal heirs to administer or sell the property, even if there is no other claim on it.

What is the procedure for obtaining a succession certificate?

The process to obtain a certificate of succession requires a person to petition before the District Judge of the correct jurisdiction. Jurisdiction of the court is to be decided on the basis of the place of residence of the deceased or the place where the said property in question is located completely or partly, as the case may be. 

Stage 1: Petition for Certificate of Succession 

A petition for succession certificate must generally contain the following particulars: 

  1. Time of death of the deceased; 
  2. Residence or details of properties of the deceased at the time of death within which Judge the jurisdiction falls under; 
  3. Details of family or other near relatives; 
  4. The rights of the petitioner on the assets of the deceased;
  5. Absence of any impediment to the grant of a certificate; 
  6. Grant of Certificate

After having made the petition, it is up to the District Judge if he wants to give an opportunity to hear the petitioner and allow him to establish his right by oral submissions, on the grounds of the merits of the petition so filed.  Once all the hearings, as directed by the District Judge is concluded, the Judge can decide the right of the petitioner to be granted the succession certificate. The Judge would then pass an order for grant of certificate specifying the debts and securities set forth in the application empowering the person to receive interest or dividend or to negotiate or transfer or do both.

Register Your Property

Stage 2 – Affidavit for the Certificate of Succession

To get the certificate, the legal heirs of the deceased must file an affidavit petitioning their claim to the property to the District or High Court of proper jurisdiction. The affidavit also requires the petitioner to submit copies of their passports of ration cards. The affidavit shall also include the following details:

  1. Name of the petitioner;
  2. Place of residence; and
  3. Occupation of the petitioners

The above details are also to be provided for the next-of-kin of the deceased. In case a legal heir wishes to relinquish his right to the estate, this must also be explicitly mentioned in the affidavit. Once the affidavit is filed before the court by the petitioners, the court shall give notice of the application to all next-of-kin of the deceased. The information may also need to be made public by way of an advertisement in a national daily for information. In the stipulated time period, if no objection to the grant of certificate is raised either by the next-of-kin or the public at large, the certificate will be issued soon after. It generally takes around four months for a decision in the matter of succession certificate 

Stage 3- Indemnification Bond

Once the certificate of succession has been granted to the petitioner by the court, the next step is to sign a bond to indemnify persons entitled to the debts and assets of the deceased. The bond will also require a surety whose own assets are equal to or worth more than the estate of the deceased. The surety is generally for the purpose to guarantee the legal heir. 

Succession Laws

Under the Indian legal system, the property devolves according to the religion of the deceased in case of an intestate death

Male Hindu (covered under Hindu Succession Act; also includes Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains)
1. First, the property will devolve upon relatives specified in Class I;
2. If there is no Class I heir, then upon Class II relatives;
3. In case there’s no Class II heir, then upon agnates (those related to another wholly through males, whether by blood or adoption, are agnates) and;
4. If there is no agnate, then upon the cognates (related, by blood or adoption, but not wholly through males).

Female Hindu
1. First, the property will devolve upon sons and daughters (including the children of any predeceased son or daughter) and the husband in equal measure;
2. Secondly, upon the husband’s heirs;
3. If the husband has no heirs, then upon the parents;
4. Upon the heirs of the father;
5. Lastly, upon the heirs of the mother.

However, any property a female Hindu inherits from her parents shall devolve, in case she has no children (including the children of any predeceased son or daughter), upon the heirs of the father. Similarly, property inherited from in-laws shall go to the in-laws’ heirs if she dies without children or grandchildren.

Christians (covered under Indian Succession Act)

1. A third of the property shall go to the wife and the rest will be divided equally among children (including the children of any predeceased son or daughter);
2. If there is no wife, the property will be divided among the children;
3. If there are no children, the property is shared equally by the wife and the husband’s relatives.
4. Lastly, it will devolve upon the parents of the deceased;

Parsis (covered by Indian Succession Act)

1. Half goes to the wife, the rest to the children;
2. If there is no wife, the property is distributed equally among children;
3. If neither wife nor child survives, the assets go to the parents of the deceased.

Muslims (covered by Shariat)

The qazi (judge ruling according to Islamic religious law) takes the burial expenses and makes a list of the assets of the deceased that need to be distributed among wife and children.

Hindu Undivided Family (HUF; by survivorship)

The property of a HUF devolves by survivorship. If the Karta dies, the property devolves upon the surviving members for four generations. Regardless of the fact that the heirs are Hindu, the property will not devolve in accordance with the Hindu Succession Act.

However, a Class I male or female relative may make a claim on a share of the property, in which case the property would devolve upon the claimant as provided under the Hindu Succession Act.

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What is Succession Certificate and how to obtain it?

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A succession certificate is used to grant authority to the heirs over the debts, securities and other assets of the deceased. It is a certification given by the court, generally preceded by an investigation into heirs, required to ascertain who are the legal heirs of the deceased. Generally a succession certificate includes details of the deceased, details of the legal heir so chosen, the relation between the deceased and the heir, list of debts and assets, grant of authority, the details of the death of the deceased and a declaration of an intestate death. In this article we will cover the following points:

  • What is a succession certificate? 
  • What is the procedure for obtaining a succession certificate?

What is a succession certificate? 

For people who die intestate leaving back their assets, securities and debts, the court intervenes to grant a certificate of succession to the legal heirs of the person so deceased. If a person has deceased without the preparation of a will with regard to the distribution of his assets and property, then the person is said to have died intestate. Therefore, in such a situation of an intestate death, a succession certificate entitles the holder of the certificate to settle down the debts and securities and take over the remaining assets of the deceased person. Apart from the entitlement to securities and assets, a succession certificate also provides indemnity to all persons owing such debts or liable on such securities with regards to all payments made to or dealings had in good faith with a person to whom a certificate as granted. 

Generally, in movable properties, a succession certificate is not required to establish ownership over the property of the deceased. It generally plays a crucial role when another legal heir contests the ownership and possession of the legal heir in whose possession it continues to be. Alternately, it will be necessary if the matter goes to court. In case of immovable assets, however, a succession certificate would be necessary for the legal heirs to administer or sell the property, even if there is no other claim on it.

What is the procedure for obtaining a succession certificate?

The process to obtain a certificate of succession requires a person to petition before the District Judge of the correct jurisdiction. Jurisdiction of the court is to be decided on the basis of the place of residence of the deceased or the place where the said property in question is located completely or partly, as the case may be. 

Stage 1: Petition for Certificate of Succession 

A petition for succession certificate must generally contain the following particulars: 

  1. Time of death of the deceased; 
  2. Residence or details of properties of the deceased at the time of death within which Judge the jurisdiction falls under; 
  3. Details of family or other near relatives; 
  4. The rights of the petitioner on the assets of the deceased;
  5. Absence of any impediment to the grant of a certificate; 
  6. Grant of Certificate

After having made the petition, it is up to the District Judge if he wants to give an opportunity to hear the petitioner and allow him to establish his right by oral submissions, on the grounds of the merits of the petition so filed.  Once all the hearings, as directed by the District Judge is concluded, the Judge can decide the right of the petitioner to be granted the succession certificate. The Judge would then pass an order for grant of certificate specifying the debts and securities set forth in the application empowering the person to receive interest or dividend or to negotiate or transfer or do both.

Register Your Property

Stage 2 – Affidavit for the Certificate of Succession

To get the certificate, the legal heirs of the deceased must file an affidavit petitioning their claim to the property to the District or High Court of proper jurisdiction. The affidavit also requires the petitioner to submit copies of their passports of ration cards. The affidavit shall also include the following details:

  1. Name of the petitioner;
  2. Place of residence; and
  3. Occupation of the petitioners

The above details are also to be provided for the next-of-kin of the deceased. In case a legal heir wishes to relinquish his right to the estate, this must also be explicitly mentioned in the affidavit. Once the affidavit is filed before the court by the petitioners, the court shall give notice of the application to all next-of-kin of the deceased. The information may also need to be made public by way of an advertisement in a national daily for information. In the stipulated time period, if no objection to the grant of certificate is raised either by the next-of-kin or the public at large, the certificate will be issued soon after. It generally takes around four months for a decision in the matter of succession certificate 

Stage 3- Indemnification Bond

Once the certificate of succession has been granted to the petitioner by the court, the next step is to sign a bond to indemnify persons entitled to the debts and assets of the deceased. The bond will also require a surety whose own assets are equal to or worth more than the estate of the deceased. The surety is generally for the purpose to guarantee the legal heir. 

Succession Laws

Under the Indian legal system, the property devolves according to the religion of the deceased in case of an intestate death

Male Hindu (covered under Hindu Succession Act; also includes Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains)
1. First, the property will devolve upon relatives specified in Class I;
2. If there is no Class I heir, then upon Class II relatives;
3. In case there’s no Class II heir, then upon agnates (those related to another wholly through males, whether by blood or adoption, are agnates) and;
4. If there is no agnate, then upon the cognates (related, by blood or adoption, but not wholly through males).

Female Hindu
1. First, the property will devolve upon sons and daughters (including the children of any predeceased son or daughter) and the husband in equal measure;
2. Secondly, upon the husband’s heirs;
3. If the husband has no heirs, then upon the parents;
4. Upon the heirs of the father;
5. Lastly, upon the heirs of the mother.

However, any property a female Hindu inherits from her parents shall devolve, in case she has no children (including the children of any predeceased son or daughter), upon the heirs of the father. Similarly, property inherited from in-laws shall go to the in-laws’ heirs if she dies without children or grandchildren.

Christians (covered under Indian Succession Act)

1. A third of the property shall go to the wife and the rest will be divided equally among children (including the children of any predeceased son or daughter);
2. If there is no wife, the property will be divided among the children;
3. If there are no children, the property is shared equally by the wife and the husband’s relatives.
4. Lastly, it will devolve upon the parents of the deceased;

Parsis (covered by Indian Succession Act)

1. Half goes to the wife, the rest to the children;
2. If there is no wife, the property is distributed equally among children;
3. If neither wife nor child survives, the assets go to the parents of the deceased.

Muslims (covered by Shariat)

The qazi (judge ruling according to Islamic religious law) takes the burial expenses and makes a list of the assets of the deceased that need to be distributed among wife and children.

Hindu Undivided Family (HUF; by survivorship)

The property of a HUF devolves by survivorship. If the Karta dies, the property devolves upon the surviving members for four generations. Regardless of the fact that the heirs are Hindu, the property will not devolve in accordance with the Hindu Succession Act.

However, a Class I male or female relative may make a claim on a share of the property, in which case the property would devolve upon the claimant as provided under the Hindu Succession Act.

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A lawyer with 14 years' experience, Vikram has worked with several well-known corporate law firms before joining Vakilsearch.