Difference between Legal Heirship and Succession Certificate

Difference between Legal Heirship and Succession Certificate

Date : 22 May, 2020

Post By Simran Sethi

While both legal heirship certificate and succession certificate are procured in relation to identifying and authenticating the relationship of the person as the legal heir of the deceased, both of the certificates are distinct from one another and serve as to fulfil different purposes.

1. Succession Certificate

The Indian Succession Act of 1925 defines a succession certificate as the certificate issued by a court to the legal heirs of a deceased to establish the authenticity of the heirs and give them the authority to inherit debts, securities and other assets of the deceased.

This succession certificate is basically a document issued by a civil court to the legal heirs of the deceased person, certifying that the person to whom it is issued is legally and rightfully the heir of the deceased person. The main objective of the succession certificate is to realise the debts and securities of the deceased by authorising the heir for it.

The purpose of a succession certificate is limited to the ambit of debts and securities such as insurance, deposits in banks, shares or any other security of the central or state government to which the deceased was entitled; with the primary objective to facilitate collection of such securities and debts and simultaneously providing protection to the parties paying debts to the representative of the deceased person and to ensure that succession laws are strictly followed. 

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Usage: A succession certificate is asked for when the identity of a person as a legal heir is to be validated. It is of equal value when the banks and other financial institutions release funds to a nominee who is otherwise not a legal beneficiary. This marks the area of conflict between the two and this is the time when succession certificate is of high value. In certain States it is mandatory to have a copy of will (if it exists) and the succession certificate in order to transfer of title of immovable property. 

In cases where a person does not die intestate (means he made a will before he died), a succession certificate may not be required in those cases as the distribution of the assets of the deceased will be done in accordance of the will by the duly assigned executor of that will. But in the absence of the will, banks and other financial institutions rely on the succession certificate for similar purposes.

Process to acquire succession certificate

A petition has to be filed by the beneficiary so as to acquire the succession certificate.

The petition has to be filed before the District Judge (as per Section 372 of The Indian Succession Act) under whose jurisdiction the property lies or under whose authority the deceased lived.

The petition must contain information regarding name of the beneficiary, his relationship with the deceased, names of other heirs and the securities in pursuance of which the succession certificate is applied for. The petition must be signed and verified by the beneficiary. Along with this, the death certificate of the deceased should also be attached.

The court then issues a notice to the concerned parties and prescribes a time period under which any objections can be raised. When no objections are raised, a certificate of succession is issued to the beneficiary with the option of having right to receive dividends and interest attached to the property or the right to transfer the asset or both. However, when there are a multiple beneficiaries, a joint certificate of succession is issued instead of multiple certificates that are legally binding. 

Effect of succession certificate and validity: This helps in authorising the legal heir with securities, debts and other assets of the deceased. The succession certificate is valid anywhere in India.

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2. Legal Heirship Certificate

This certificate is obtained to transfer the assets of the deceased to his legal heirs. It is a very important document to establish the relationship between the deceased and legal heirs. Once the death certificate is obtained, a legal heirship certificate is immediately applied for, in order to validate the relation between the deceased and the person as his legal heir. It basically helps in identifying the person as lawful heir of the deceased. 

Usage of the certificate: The usage of this certificate is limited to matters including claiming of employee benefits of the deceased, insurance claims, property registration, gratuity etc. It can be issued and relied upon for certain limited purposes only.  

Procedure for obtaining Legal Heirship Certificate

Legal Heir certificates are issued by revenue officers such as Tahsildar of the taluk to identify a particular deceased person’s legal heir as The Indian Succession Act does not provide a specific method to obtain it. 

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Legal Heirship Certificate and Succession Certificate

A legal heirship certificate assists in determining the identity of person as a legal heir of the deceased while the succession certificate aids in authenticating the already established legal heirs to incur securities and other assets of the deceased by filing a petition for it. Documents like Legal Heirship Certificate and Death Certificates act as a substitute to Succession Certificate and in some cases the former works better than the latter as the process to obtain the former is easier and speedier than the latter. When the legal heirship certificate is not accepted, then the heirs apply for the succession certificate. A Tahsildar cannot issue the legal heirship certificate when the family members are already in dispute in the court regarding claiming oneself as the valid legal heirs of the deceased.

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