What Is a Succession Certificate & When Do You Need It?
21 Mar, 2023 . 2 min read

What Is a Succession Certificate & When Do You Need It?

While many still hesitate to write a Will, property disputes after someone’s death are not a new thing. Even so, it is the most common thing, especially in the courts of India. When a person dies without leaving a Will, certain documents must be produced to prove legal heirship or succession to the deceased person. One such document is the succession certificate.

Today we’ll cover:

  1. What is the succession certificate, and who needs one?
  2. Why do you need it?
  3. When do you need it?
  4. Where is it required?
  5. Who grants it?

What is a succession certificate, and who needs one?

Under the Indian Succession Act, a succession certificate is a document that authorizes the person who obtains it to represent the deceased in collecting debts and securities due to him or payable in his name. In the absence of a Will, a succession certificate is usually the primary document through which legal heirs can stake a claim to a deceased movable assets.

The issuance of a succession certificate does not confer the right of succession to a deceased person's property because it does not determine the deceased person's right, title, and interest in a specific property or the entire property. However, if a person dies without leaving a Will behind, his successor(s) have the right to inherit the deceased person's property.

A succession certificate can not be granted if the deceased person has left a Will, in that case, the property will be distributed by the executor among the beneficiaries as per the Will. 

Why do you need it?

A succession certificate is intended to protect debtors, which means that where a debtor of a deceased person either voluntarily pays his debt to a person holding a certificate under the Act or is compelled by a court decree to pay it to the person, he is lawfully discharged. The grant of a certificate does not establish the grantee as the heir of the deceased, but only gives him authority to collect his debts and allows debtors to make payments to him without risk.

Precisely, it is used for the transfer or possession of property, for paying debts or security on behalf of a deceased person, or for collecting debts or security on behalf of the deceased. Security means

  1. any promissory note, debenture, stock, or other security of the central government or of a state government;
  2. any bond, debenture, or annuity charged by an Act of Parliament [of the United Kingdom] on the revenues of India;
  3. any stock or debenture of, or share in, a company or other incorporated institution;
  4. any debenture or other security for money issued by, or on behalf of, a local authority;
  5. any other security which the [State Government] may, by notification in the Official Gazette declare to be a security.

When do you need it?

A succession certificate is a document issued by the court to the heirs of the deceased in order for them to claim the movable property. It is significant, and appropriate advice should be obtained before making and implementing these. Generally, banks will not release funds or FDs unless a document of this type is granted to the successor.

Where is it required?

It is generally required by the financial institutions that have deceased financial investments, i.e., securities, in the absence of a Will. For instance, if the deceased person had invested in mutual funds, digital gold, cryptocurrency, stocks and shares, equity, etc.

Who grants it?

The District Judge within whose jurisdiction the deceased ordinarily resided at the time of his death or, if at that time he had no fixed place of residence, the District Judge, within whose jurisdiction any part of the property of the deceased may be found, may grant a certificate. The basic information required is as follows:

  1. the time of the deceased's death; 
  2. the deceased's ordinary residence at the time of his death, and, if such residence was not within the local limits of the judge to whom the application is made, the deceased's property within those limits; 
  3. the deceased's family or other close relatives and their respective residences;
  4. the right in which this certificate is claimed;
  5. the debts and securities for which the certificate is sought.

To claim a succession certificate, the applicant will need to contact an advocate, who will help him/her get it from the appropriate court.

Reach out to our team today for a consultation and learn everything you need to know about a succession certificate. Call us on 80692 32888 today.

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