A Legal Heir Certificate and a Succession Certificate are both fundamental legal documents used in matters pertaining to inheritance and estate settlements. These certificates serve distinct purposes in verifying the rightful heirs of a deceased individual and ensuring the lawful transfer of assets and properties.

What is a Succession Certificate?

A Succession Certificate is a legal document that is governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925 and its subsequent rules. It is essentially a vital legal document for both the residents of India and the Non-Resident Indians (“NRI(s)”). The primary purpose of a Succession Certificate is to certify that an individual is the rightful heir to a deceased individual’s assets and debts who has passed away intestate. This legal document thereby, simplifies the process for NRIs to certify rightful ownership over the assets and the debts of the deceased individual and thus, aiding them in acquiring their rightful rights along with liabilities.

What is a Legal Heir Certificate?

For an NRI who is the next direct heir of a deceased individual, a Legal Heir Certificate is a crucial legal document that facilitates and expedites the procedure. The certificate is necessary to obtain and successfully transfer the ownership of assets and properties of the deceased individual to the certified legal heir. The certificate issued by the appropriate authorities is revocable and is not particular to any one person. It may include the names of all the deceased individual’s legitimate heirs. A Legal Heir Certificate can be utilized to transfer the ownership of telephone connection, bank account, house tax etc., and in the instance wherein the deceased individual was a government employee, the Legal Heir certificate would also enable sanction of pensions and job opportunities based on compassionate appointment.

When are Legal Heir Certificate and Succession Certificate Required?

The requirement of a Succession Certificate would arise for an NRI in the event, an individual being a relative of the NRI has passed away intestate i.e., without formulating a valid will. Herein, the NRI would have to procure a Succession Certificate to rightfully claim his/her assets and debts left behind by the deceased individual.

An NRI would require a Legal Heir Certificate to identify as the rightful successor of the deceased individual which would consequently enable the applicant to claim the assets and properties of the deceased individual. A Legal Heir certificate may be required in some of the following instances:

  1. To claim insurance;
  2. To sanction the pension of the deceased individual, if any;
  3. To receive employment benefits such as provident fund and gratuity; and
  4. To seek appointment of job on the basis of compassionate appointments.

Applicant Eligibility: Legal Heir Certificate and Succession Certificate

In order to successfully procure a Succession Certificate, the next direct legal heir being the wife, husband, son, daughter, mother, or father of the deceased individual shall file a petition in the Hon’ble District Civil Court. However, such petition shall be made by: (i) a person of sound mind; (ii) a person who have attained the age of majority; (iii) a person who has an interest in the assets of the deceased; and (iv) a minor through his/her legal guardian.

A Legal Heir Certificate can be procured by the following individuals:

  1. Child of the deceased individual, either being the ‘Son’ or the ‘Daughter’.
  2. Mother of the deceased individual.
  3. Father of the deceased individual.
  4. Wife of the deceased individual.

Application Process for NRIs

NRI’s who claim to be the rightful owners of the deceased individual’s property shall follow the below mentioned legal procedure in order to successfully procure a Succession Certificate.

Step 1: The individual claiming to be the rightful owner shall duly file a petition with the Hon’ble District Judge of the Civil Court having jurisdiction over the matter along with the requisite documents.

Step 2: Afterwards, the court would provide the petitioner with an opportunity to be heard and present his/her case as the rightful owner. Upon completion of this preliminary hearing, the court may or may not accept the petition of the petitioner. Upon admission, the court would provide the date of a final hearing wherein, the court would determine whether the petitioner is the rightful owner of the assets and debts of the deceased individual.

Step 3: Post completion of the final hearing, the court would determine whether there exists a valid claim on behalf of the petitioner and thereby, the court would decide whether to grant the Succession Certificate.

Depending on the state in which an NRI wants to obtain a Legal Heir Certificate, they may need to follow certain specific steps. However, the standard procedure to obtain a Legal Heir Certificate for an NRI comprises of the following steps:

Step 1: The applicant for the Legal Heir Certificate shall obtain the application form from the Taluk/ Tahsildar’s office, the District Civil Court or other applicable authorities or the applicant can also obtain the form via the state e-district portal.

Step 2: The applicant shall duly fill the form and submit the same to the authority along with the requisite documents as provided below.

Step 3: Upon submission of the application form, the authority will conduct an inspection and verify the claim of the applicant as being the legal heir. Post completion of enquiry, the authority may or may not issue the applicant the Legal Heir Certificate.

Jurisdiction Issues

In order to determine the jurisdiction of the court where an individual shall file the petition to procure the Succession Certificate, the same would be dependent on where the deceased individual resided prior to his/her death. If the court is unable to track the place of residence as provided by the petitioner, the jurisdiction would then rely on the location of the assets of the deceased individual. Here, if the jurisdiction of the place of residence and location of assets are different, the matter may be transferred to a different Civil Court.

The jurisdiction to grant a Legal heir Certificate lies with the Taluk/ Tahsildar’s Office, the Hon’ble District Civil Court, or the Office of the concerned Deputy Commissioner of the applicant’s area.

Documents Required

The petitioner while filing his/her petition with the Hon’ble District Judge of a Civil Court has to submit the requisite documents along with the petition. Following are some of the documents that are required to be submitted:

  1. The time of the death of the deceased;
  2. The ordinary residence of the deceased at the time of his/her death, if such residence was not within the local limits of the jurisdiction of the judge to whom the application is made, then the property of the deceased within those limits;
  3. The family or other near relatives of the deceased and their respective residences;
  4. The right in which the petitioner is making his/her claim;
  5. The absence of any impediments in the grant/ validity of the certificate; and
  6. The assets and liabilities in respect of which the petitioner is applying for the certificate.

On the other hand, in order to successfully procure a Legal Heir Certificate, the applicant shall approach the Taluk/ Tahsildar’s Office with the following documents:

  1. Complete application form;
  2. Applicable court fee;
  3. Self-undertaking/ affidavit;
  4. Letter from the government department of deceased employee to obtain Legal Heir Certificate from Deputy Commissioner office;
  5. Photograph of the applicant;
  6. Identity Proof of the applicant;
  7. Residence proofs of all legal heirs;
  8. Date of birth proofs of all legal heirs;
  9. Death certificate of deceased individual in original; and
  10. Residence certificate of the deceased.

How Can We Help You Get Legal Heir Certificate and Succession Certificate?

Obtaining a Legal Heir Certificate and Succession Certificate marks a significant step towards ensuring a smooth transition of assets and properties after the passing of a loved one. These certificates not only provide the legal recognition necessary to establish rightful heirs and beneficiaries but also safeguard their inheritance rights. However, navigating the legal processes involved in obtaining these certificates can be intricate, but with the right guidance and support, it becomes manageable.

A&A NRI Legal Advisory offers a comprehensive guidance and support throughout the entire process. We combine our years of knowledge and practical experience to help and simplify the complexities involved in the process of acquiring these certificates. We begin by providing detailed information about the requisite documents and the step-by-step application process. Our legal experts will assist you in gathering the necessary paperwork, ensuring that everything is in order and compliant with the legal requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the validity of a succession certificate?

A succession certificate once issued by a civil court having the requisite jurisdiction would enforce the applicability of the succession certificate throughout india. Furthermore, if a succession certificate is granted in a foreign country by an authority duly accredited by the indian government, it would be deemed to be issued in india and thereby, the certificate would be considered valid provided that it should be stamped in accordance with the court fees act, 1870.

2. When is a succession certificate not required?

A succession certificate is not required where the deceased individual had executed a valid will prior to his/her death.

3. What is the timeline for the issuance of a legal heir certificate?

The standard timeline for obtaining a legal heir certificate is approximately 30 (thirty) days. If the issuance of a legal heir certificate is taking longer than 30 (thirty) days, the applicant may approach the revenue division officer/ sub-collector’s office.