All You Need to Know About Succession Certificate

The Indian Succession Act, 1925, implies that a succession certificate is a document that is issued by civil courts of India to establish the rightful claim of legal heirs when the person dies intestate (which means they did not leave a valid will).

When the owner of a property dies and has no will, the family needs to obtain a succession certificate to clearly outline the successor of the deceased person. This person who holds the succession certificate can take on the responsibilities tied to the assets and debts of the deceased person. In short, a succession certificate is a legal document that gives authority to a person or persons who have obtained it to represent an individual who is deceased. A person who has a succession certificate can then collect or claim debts and securities owed to the deceased person, according to succession laws. It is issued by the district judge of the place where the deceased person lived or had property.

What is a succession certificate for property?

A succession certificate is issued by a civil court that certifies a person to be the legal successor of a deceased person, authorising them to secure debts and securities that belong to the deceased person.

In simple terms, a succession certificate, which is given by a court after some necessary checks, establishes the legal heirs. This certificate grants them the authority over the deceased person’s debts, assets and securities. This includes assets such as insurance, mutual funds, pension, bank balance, etc.

The certificate will mention the relation of the petitioner with the deceased, the information regarding the other surviving legal heirs, as well as details such as the place, time and date of death of the deceased. It will also state that the deceased died intestate. When it comes to immovable assets such as property, a succession certificate is necessary in order for the legal heirs to obtain or sell the property.

Note that if a person has a succession certificate it does not mean that they have the right of succession to the property of the deceased person. This is because a succession certificate does not prove the right, title and interest of the deceased person to a property.

All the legal heirs of a deceased person who has died without a will (intestate) are entitled to inherit the property of that deceased person.

When is a succession certificate required? What is the purpose of a succession certificate?

A succession certificate is required by the legal heirs of a person who dies intestate, leaving no legal will behind. The succession certificate is used to prove that the person who is petitioning to take ownership of the deceased person’s property is the rightful legal heir. After thorough checks, a competent civil court will determine whether the petitioner can be granted the succession certificate. This succession certificate is required when a person inherits movable or immovable property under the country’s property laws such as the Hindu Succession Act, Indian Succession Act or other community acts.

Who issues the succession certificate?

The succession certificate is issued by the district judge of the jurisdiction of the location where the deceased person was living during the time he passed away. If this is not possible then the jurisdiction is passed on to where the assets of the deceased person are present.

What is the procedure to obtain a succession certificate?

The succession certificate procedure is quite straightforward. Once you have filed a legal petition in court to obtain the succession certificate, the court will take the matter further by doing the necessary steps to verify and authenticate the request. Here are the various steps involved in getting a succession certificate.

1. Filing the petition

If you are a legal heir who wants to claim ownership of the assets left by a deceased person, you will have to file an affidavit in the proper format petitioning claim to the property. This petition needs to be verified in the civil court in the appropriate jurisdiction. The affidavit needs to have the name, place of residence, and occupation of the petitioners. The details of the next-of-kin of the deceased also have to be included similarly. If any legal heir wants to relinquish their right to the property, it must be mentioned, too. A copy of the death certificate of the deceased person should be included with the affidavit.

The petition should mention the details written below clearly.

  • Time, date, and place regarding the deceased person’s death
  • Names of other legal relatives or heirs and their details
  • The residence and the details of the properties owned by the deceased person and the jurisdiction those fall under
  • The rights of the petitioner
  • Details of an absence of any impediment to granting of the succession certificate
  • Copies of ration cards or passports for identification purposes
  • Debts or securities for which the succession certificate has been applied
  • No objection certificates from the other legal heirs

2. Succession certificate fee

There are fees to be submitted in order to obtain the succession certificate. This fee is determined as a specific percentage of the value of the estate. It will have to be paid by the person who is making the petition in judicial stamps. This is in accordance with The Court Fees Act, 1870.

3. Notifying the public

The court then inspects the petition and gives notice of it to the next-of-kin of the deceased person who are not the petitioners. The information then needs to be made public and is done so through a notice or advertisement in a national newspaper. There is a period of 45 days, which is mentioned in the notice, for those who have objections with the petition to come forward and raise their claims along with supporting documents.

4. Granting the certificate

After the 45-day period allotted for objections, if no one comes forward to claim ownership of the deceased person’s assets or has objections of any kind, then the succession certificate is granted to the petitioner. This is also after all the checks and verifications of the claim are fulfilled by the court. If there are many petitioners, there will be a joint succession certificate.

5. Indemnity bond

The judge can ask the person who has made the petition to sign an indemnity bond in certain cases. This is to ensure that losses take place in case the petitioner misuses the succession certificate that has been granted to him or her. When signing the indemnity bond, the petitioner may have to do it by giving the court some security.

What is the fee for a succession certificate?

As mentioned above, the fee for obtaining a succession certification is determined as a specific percentage of the value of the estate. This fee is imposed by the court and will have to be paid by the person who is making the petition in judicial stamps. This is in accordance with The Court Fees Act, 1870. The percentage can vary according to the state of the country but it is usually estimated at about 2-3% of the estate’s value.

What documents are required for a succession certificate?

There are many details and documents that a court requires before it can issue a succession certificate. These are needed to verify the claimed ownership by the petitioner. Listed below are the required details and documents needed to obtain a succession certificate. These should be verified and attached with the petition.

  • Time of the death of the person who is deceased
  • Address of the deceased person at the time of death
  • Property details of the person who is deceased
  • List of assets, debts and securities of the person who is deceased
  • Family details of the person who is deceased
  • Full details of the legal heirs of the person who is deceased
  • The rights of the petitioner of the succession certificate
  • No Objection Certificates from other legal heirs

What is the validity of a succession certificate?

A succession certificate is valid in the entire country if it has been granted in India. When a succession certificate has been granted in a country other than India by an Indian representation accredited to that State, it needs to be stamped in accordance with the Court Fees Act 1870 – then it will have the same impact within India as a succession certificate that has been granted in India.

What is the format of a succession certificate?

A succession certificate will include a petition number, the names of petitioners and the address, the date of the institution, date of the decision, and for what the petitioner has been granted the authority and for what specific purpose. For example, the purpose of collecting debts owed to the person who is deceased or to change the gas connection ownership.

Most will mistake legal heir certificate and succession certificate as the same document. However, they are not.

1. Purpose

Succession certificate : The holder of a succession certificate can make transactions on the deceased person’s behalf. The holder can take over the assets, securities and debts owed to the deceased person.

Legal heir certificate : The legal heir certificate is only used as an identifier that the person who holds it is the legal heir of the deceased person.

2. Issuance

Succession certificate : The issuing authority for a succession certificate is the district court judge.

Legal heir certificate : The issuing authority for a legal heir certificate is either the municipality or the Tehsildars.

3. Specifications mentioned

Succession certificate : The succession certificate must mention the assets, debts and securities of the deceased person. As well as the relationship the petitioner has with the deceased person.

Legal heir certificate : The legal heir certificate will have a list of all the legal inheritors of the person who is deceased.

4. Consequence

Succession certificate : The holding of a succession certificate will not guarantee that you become the beneficiary of the estate or property.

Legal heir certificate : By law, the person or persons who hold the legal heir certificate are entitled to inheritance of the estate of the deceased person.

5. Timeline

Succession certificate : Succession certificate requires 45 days or more to be granted.

Legal heir certificate : Legal heir certificate needs around 15 to 20 days to be granted.

6. Assets

Succession certificate : Succession certificate includes the movable properties only.

Legal heir certificate : Legal heir certificate includes all kinds of properties.

The revocation of the succession certificate

The succession certificate can also be revoked by a court. It is usually done for a number of reasons such as:

  • Wrong information was given to the court in order to deceive it.
  • The methods and processes to grant the certificate were not done correctly.
  • The information given by the petitioner claiming to be a successor are found to be false.
  • The certificate has no use anymore because circumstances have changed.


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