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Legal Heir

Difference Between a Legal Heir Certificate and Surviving Member Certificate

In this informative article, you will gain knowledge about the Legal heir certificate and Surviving member certificate, providing the difference between both of them.

You might think that both the legal heir certificate vs. surviving member certificate are quite the same according to their nomenclature and purpose somehow, but they have a lot of differences.

They both are issued to ensure the correct legal heirs that are left behind by the deceased person. The certificate is usually asked as proof of the heirs or surviving members to receive benefits from the government like government services/jobs and various places. A legal surviving member or heir certificate includes the details such as name relationship with the person deceased, a photograph of each and every surviving member, and the correct age.

Although both these certificates imply the same thing, there are plenty of factors by which you can differentiate between them. This article is all about the differences between a legal heir certificate and surviving member certificate.

Prior to knowing the differences, let us go through the benefits of these certificates.

Who Are Legal Heirs?

In India, legal heirs are categorized into two groups – Class I and Class II.

Class I heirs entitled to an equal share for a Hindu man under the Hindu Succession Law include:

  1. The wife of the deceased.
  2. The children of the deceased.
  3. The mother of the deceased.

If there are no Class I heirs, the property can be claimed by Class II heirs.

Class II heirs for a Hindu man under the Hindu Succession Law comprise:

  1. The father of the deceased.
  2. The grandchildren of the deceased.
  3. The great-grandchildren of the deceased.
  4. The siblings of the deceased.
  5. Other relatives as specified by the law.

What Is a Legal Heir Certificate?

A Legal Heir Certificate is a crucial official document issued by government authorities to establish the relationship between the deceased individual and their legal heirs as per India’s Succession Laws. This certificate plays a vital role in facilitating the transfer of the deceased person’s legal assets to their surviving family members. 

It is particularly essential for various financial transactions and real estate matters, including but not limited to provident funds, house tax, loans, electricity bills, and handling savings or current accounts. Additionally, when a person passes away without leaving a will or a declared legal nominee, a legal heirship certificate from the court becomes necessary.

Benefits of Legal Heir Certificate or Surviving Member Certificate

  • These are required for establishing a relationship with the person deceased.
  • For establishing a claim over the movable and immovable assets, of the deceased member.
  • For claiming benefits of the employee (deceased person) like PF, family pension, gratuity, government service (if the deceased person was a government employee), etc.
  • For availing various benefits from government schemes.
  • For claiming insurance money of the deceased.

Note: It is to be remembered that a Legal Heir Certificate is totally not any conclusive proof according to succession laws in India. It is different from any Letters of Administration or succession certificate.   

Difference Between a Legal Heir/Heirship Certificate and Surviving Member Certificate

Legal Heir Certificate and surviving member certificate are different from each other in many ways. 

  • If the family head or any family member passes away, the immediate next legal heir who needs to be directly related to the deceased person (for example, wife, son, husband, daughter, father, mother, etc.) is eligible for applying for the certificate of succession/heir.
  • This heir certificate can be utilised to transfer the electricity connection, telephone connection, IT returns filing, house tax, data transfer, etc.
  • If anyone needs to transfer a property or claim the insurance money of the deceased, they will have to get a legal heir certificate from a court.
  • If the deceased individual was an employee of the government, the legal heir certificate will be issued from the court to benefit the legal heirs of family pension or any type of services on necessary grounds.
  • A surviving member certificate is required when the legal heir inherits any kind of movable or immovable property under various laws of property in India. The majority of this botheration fall under the Hindu Succession Act and some of these concerns fall under the community act or the Indian Succession Act.
  • The legal heir certificate can be obtained from the court whereas, the surviving member certificate can be obtained from the DM’s office. Between these two, the surviving member certificate is easier and faster to obtain.
  • The legal heir certificate is issued by a court that is law competent when a family member dies intestate which means he/she has died without leaving a will behind. In this case, every surviving family legal heir can approach the court for a grant of their legal heir certificate.
  • A surviving member certificate is generally issued by the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) in the Delhi office and it is a simple document that contains all the names of the legal surviving heirs.
  • If a family head dies who had the property under his/her name, only the legal heirs have the permit for the partition of the property. Here a legal heir certificate is compulsory and it plays a very important role as it determines if any of the legal heirs were omitted from the partition. Whereas, a surviving member certificate is not that crucial in such cases.
  • A surviving member certificate is merely a tool to receive a declaration from the legal authorities about who are the individuals alive after the deceased one. They can be successors to the intestate property according to the inheritance rule. But, the fact is it neither determines the title of those properties nor settles the fact that who the successor will be.
  • This certificate merely limits or lists the number of surviving members. Among all the members alive, the successor will be determined by the civil court afterward.

Whereas, in a legal heir the civil court settles the fact about the true successor of the deceased person.

In short, to sum up, the surviving member certificate is the initial or primary step to getting the legal heir certificate.

Secure your family legacy promptly—Apply for legal heir certificate now!

Documents Needed to Apply for the Legal Heir and Surviving Member Certificate?

Both certificates almost require the same documents.

  • You need to fill out an application form that is available at the SDM’s office or court.
  • Original and legal death certificate of the deceased member.
  • Copies of address proof and ID proof of the person deceased.
  • Exclusively for the legal hire certificate, a member of the family is needed to submit an undertaking affidavit by every surviving member of the family and the applicant.

Note: Every copy of the above-mentioned proofs (ID and address proof) must be self-attested or signed by the applicant (who is applying for the certificates on behalf of every heir present).

How Long Will it Take for the Application of Surviving Member and Legal Heir Certificate to Get Processed?

It normally takes one to two months to receive the legal heir certificate and the surviving member certificate. Once you submit the duly filled application form from the SDM or the court along with the physical copies of all the required documents, a court official or an official from the district magistrate’s office might visit the official address of the heir or the applicant for the purpose of verification.

You will also require two or more neighbors or individuals to witness the address and identity verification. Court officials might ask for copies of the address and identity proofs of your witnesses as well. Normally the officials bring along the documents submitted by the applicant, thus, one does not have to carry the documents once again while verification.

Once the application is submitted, you can download it from the online portal and an SMS or email will be sent to your registered mobile number. This is to inform you regarding the status of the certificate (whether it is completed or not).

How Can Individuals Obtain a Legal Heir Certificate/Surviving Member Certificate Once Issued?

Individuals can obtain the legal heir certificate or surviving member certificate from the relevant issuing authority or download it from the online portal where the application was submitted. Notification of the certificate’s readiness may be sent via email or SMS if the applicant has provided their email address or mobile number in the application form.


You can easily proceed with any of these legal cases through one of the most trusted and reliable platforms, Vakilsearch. For further queries, feel free to contact us.

FAQs on Legal Heir Certificate vs. Surviving Member Certificate

Is legal heir certificate and family member certificate the same?

No, a legal heir certificate and a family member certificate are not the same. A legal heir certificate establishes the relationship between the deceased and the heirs for inheritance purposes. On the other hand, a family member certificate is a document that provides details about the members in a particular family and is not necessarily tied to inheritance matters.

Is succession certificate different from legal heir certificate?

Yes, a succession certificate is different from a legal heir certificate. A legal heir certificate establishes the relationship between the deceased and the heirs, while a succession certificate is a legal document that grants the holder the authority to inherit debts, securities, and other assets of the deceased.

What are the benefits of a survival certificate?

A survival certificate, or survivorship certificate, is typically issued to the surviving joint owner of property or assets after the death of the other owner. The benefits include clear documentation of ownership, facilitating the smooth transfer of assets, and providing legal recognition of the surviving owner's rights.

What is a family survival certificate?

There is no specific document known as a family survival certificate. The term might be a mix-up, and it's recommended to clarify whether it refers to a survival certificate for individual family members or another type of document.

What are the importance and benefits of survival techniques?

Survival techniques are crucial skills that help individuals cope and endure in challenging situations, such as emergencies or outdoor activities. The importance lies in enhancing one's ability to survive by acquiring skills like shelter building, fire starting, first aid, and navigation. These techniques can be invaluable in emergencies and wilderness scenarios, increasing the chances of survival.

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