Succession Certificate is a legal document issued by a local court to the legal heirs of a deceased in the absence of a will. It enables the legal heirs of the deceased to inherit the property and liabilities if any of the deceased. It validates the claim of the applicant legal heir over the aforementioned property. Succession Certificate is an equivalent of the Will, in case of intestate deaths. Intestate death means that the deceased did not leave behind a will for the distribution of property, and thus the property will be divided or transferred by way of natural succession. It is issued as per the applicable personal law by the competent authority under whose jurisdiction the property falls.
While a Succession Certificate is a mandatory document, yet it is not sufficient to get the assets of the deceased transferred. It must be corroborated by the death certificate, letter of administration and no-objection certificate. The same rules apply even if the legal heir happens to a NRI. Although it is not mandatory for NRI to be physically present during the entire procedure. The NRI can give a trusted aid special power of attorney to represent him in the court. Or NRI can be granted the Succession Certificate at the place of their residence only by the Indian Representative who has been accredited to that country, depending on the requirement of the particular case. To obtain the Succession Certificate, the legal heirs, including the NRI, of the deceased need to go through the following procedure.
- Petitioning for the Succession Certificate – A petition has to be filed in the district court under whose jurisdiction the deceased happened to reside at the time of his death. And if the deceased had no permanent residence, the petition will be filed in the court under whose jurisdiction the assets of the deceased are located. In case the residence and assets of the deceased fall under different districts, the petition would be filed at both the places simultaneously.
- Application for the Certificate – The application requesting the Succession Certificate needs to carry the following the information.
- Name and relationship of the applicant with the deceased
- Name and details of all the legal heirs of the deceased
- Time and place of death
- The application needs to supported by the death certificate issued by the municipal corporation.
- Granting certificate – The judge, while hearing the petition, will give the opportunity of hearing to persons, who in his opinion, must be heard. This is achieved by issuing a public notice in the newspaper asking for any objection over the claim of the petitioner to be recorded within a given time period, which generally is 45 days. If no one contests the claim within the stipulated time period, the court proceeds to the judgement. Once the judge is satisfied, he will pass the order for grant of Succession Certificate to the petitioner. The Succession certificate will have all the details of the assets and the liabilities, that are being transferred to the legal heirs of the deceased.
Validity of the Succession Certificate
A succession certificate is valid throughout India. It can also be awarded in a foreign country by an Indian Representative who has been accredited for the same. Although, the succession certificate thus issued must be stamped according to the Court fees act to have similar authority as a Succession Certificate issued by an Indian Court.