It is a certificate that is issued by the court in the event of the death of a person. In case a person has died without a will, that person’s assets need to be allocated among the legal heirs. Succession certificate helps families of those people who have died intestate (without a will). It is a document that helps the legal heirs of the deceased to claim their rightful shares in the person’s movable property. The deceased might have left debt, security, funds, shares, bank accounts behind. In order to allocate these properties among the legal heirs, a succession certificate is of utmost importance. This certificate is issued in accordance with the Indian Succession Act and the certificate also acts as proof for the legal heirs to be the rightful claimants of the assets left behind by the deceased.
WHAT IS A LEGAL HEIR CERTIFICATE
A legal heir certificate is one which helps the legal heirs of the deceased to claim their rightful ownership in the property of the deceased. A legal heir certificate helps in the transfer of property and claim insurance when the head of the family is dead.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEGAL HEIR CERTIFICATE AND SUCCESSION CERTIFICATE
A succession certificate is a document which helps in getting the debts, securities, accounts of the deceased because it acts as proof. It established the rightful claim of the legal heirs on the property of the deceased. Whereas, a legal heir certificate is used for transfer of assets of the deceased.
PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING A SUCCESSION CERTIFICATE
STEP 1 –
An application for the certificate can only be filed in the district court where the person resided at the time of death. Hence, the legal heirs are required to file a petition for the same in a district court of competent jurisdiction.
The petitioner is then required to submit court fees as per the Court Fees Act in the form of judicial stamps.
The legal heirs are then required to submit an affidavit proving their rightful claim over the assets of the deceased.
STEP 4 –
After checking the correctness of the claims of the legal heirs, the court will issue a notice of the same in the newspaper and will give a period of 45 days for others to object to the notice of issuance.
STEP 5 –
If no objections are raised, the court will issue the certificate of succession to the legal heirs.
IMPORTANCE OF SUCCESSION CERTIFICATE
The issuance of a succession certificate is fundamental to the smooth allocation of movable property in the case the head of the family dies intestate. This is so because if there is no mechanism set in place when a person dies without a will, anyone under the sun can claim the property of the deceased. This certificate is a legal stamp that acts as a proof for the legal heirs to claim what is rightfully theirs. It reduces the chances of fraud and aids efficient administration of justice. The important provisions regarding the issuance of succession certificates are mentioned in sections 370-390 of the Indian Succession Act. However, a succession certificate is important only in cases of movable property. In cases of immovable property, a letter of administration is needed. The succession certificate only deals with the ownership of assets such as funds, shares, debts, securities, etc.
RELEVANT SUCCESSION LAWS
As per Indian law, the property is allocated based on the religion of the person who has died. • In case a Hindu male dies, the property devolves to people belonging to the class 1 heir group. This group includes the deceased’s son, daughter, wife, mother, etc.
- The devolution of property in case there are no class 1 heirs present takes place in the group of class 2 heirs. The heirs in class 2 include the Father of the deceased, brother and sister of the deceased, son’s daughter’s son of the deceased, etc.
- If there are no class 2 heirs present, then the devolution of property is done on the agnates. Agnates include people who are wholly related through males by blood or by adoption. These include the son of the deceased, or son’s son or son’s son’s son, etc.
- If no agnates present, then the property is bestowed upon cognates. Cognates are those who are not fully related through the male lineage of the family. These include the mother’s brother’s son, brother’s daughter’s son, etc.
- In case the deceased is a Hindu female, then laws of devolution are a little different • In case a Hindu female dies, the property is given to the son, daughter, and husband in equal portions.
- If category 1 is absent, then the property is devolved upon the husband’s heirs. • If there are no husband’s heirs, then the property is devolved upon the parents of the deceased. • If parents are not there, then the property is devolved upon the heirs of the father of the deceased
- If heirs of the father of the deceased are not present, then the property is devolved upon the heirs of the mother of the deceased.
- When a Muslim male dies, the property is divided among the children and the wife of the deceased.
- In case a Christian male dies, one-third of the property will be given to the wife, and the rest of the property will be distributed among children equally. In case, there is no wife, then the property is divided equally among children. If the children are not present but the wife is present,
then the property is divided between the wife and the relatives of the deceased. If none of the above are present, then the property is devolved upon the parents of the deceased.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED WHILE APPLYING FOR A SUCCESSION CERTIFICATE
- The death certificate of the person proving the time of the person when he/she died. 2. Residential address of the deceased when he died so as to know if the court is competent to take cognizance of the application.
- A detailed description that mentions the properties owned by the accused which are being claimed in the succession certificate.
- Description of every family member to which the deceased belonged so as to prove the relations between the deceased and the legal heirs.
- Details of the heirs of the deceased are required by the law.
- A signed no objection certificate by legal heirs is required to make sure that nobody has any objection towards the issuance of the certificate.
IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF THE CERTIFICATE
- The certificate is issued with the purpose of devolving the assets to the legal heirs with fewer chances of fraud. The legal heirs will then be able to carry out transactions on behalf of the deceased.
- The certificate mentions the assets and liabilities that the person owed to others because such information is important in order to be fulfilled.
- The certificate allocates the movable property. In case a person wants to get hold of the immovable property of the deceased, a letter of administration is required. • This certificate is valid and words throughout the Indian territory.
One Mr. Ravi has died intestate.A death certificate becomes important at this stage because the death certificate is the proof of the death of the person whose property is being claimed. It also, when presented by the heirs, bolsters their claim over property. In order to claim the assets left behind by Mr. Ravi, his son Amar is required to file a petition/ application for the issuance of the succession certificate in the district court of competent jurisdiction. The district court where Ravi resided when he died will have jurisdiction to issue the certificate. Now, after the application has been filed, Amar has to submit the court fees. After the fee has been submitted, Amar will have to prove his claim/ownership of the property which he is claiming under the certificate by submitting an affidavit to this effect. When the court is satisfied with the correctness of the claims made by Amar, it will publish the issuance of the certificate in the newspaper. If there is no objection from any other person regarding the issuance within a span of 45 days, the certificate will be issued for Amar. This issuance of the certificate makes him the owner of the assets of the deceased in which he owns the debts, securities, etc. of the deceased.
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