Succession Certificates – All You Need to Know:

A Succession Certificate, under the Indian Succession Act (hereinafter, “Act”), is a document that furnishes authority to the person who obtains it, to represent the deceased for the purpose of receiving debts and securities due to him or payable in his name. For instance, ‘A’ dies leaving his son ‘B’. It is discovered that ‘C’ owed ‘A’ fifty thousand rupees (Rs 50,000). ‘B’, in this case can make an application for a Succession Certificate in the Court to represent the deceased for obtaining the debt.

How to get a Succession Certificate in India?

A succession certificate is a certificate granted by the Courts in India to the legal heirs of a person dying intestate leaving debts and securities. A person is said to have passed away intestate when he/she does not leave a legal Will. The certificate entitles the holder to make payment of debt or transfer securities to the holder of the certificate without having to ascertain whether the legal heir is entitled to it. It provides indemnity to all persons owing such debts or liable for such securities with regards to all payments made to or dealings carried out in good faith with a person to whom a certificate is granted. Hence, many organisations and persons request for a succession certificate before settling the debts or securities of the deceased in favour of the person claiming such debts or securities.

Procedure for Obtaining a Succession Certificate:

To obtain a succession certificate, a petition has to be made to the District Judge within whose jurisdiction the deceased person ordinarily resided at the time of his or her death. If at that time he or she had no fixed place of residence, then the District Judge within whose jurisdiction any part of the property of the deceased may be found would suffice.

Petition for Succession Certificate – What it contains:

A petition for a succession certificate must contain the following particulars:

Time of death of the deceased;
Residence or details of properties of the deceased at the time of death and which Judge the jurisdiction falls under;
Details of family or other near relatives;
The rights of the petitioner;
Absence of any impediment to the grant of certificate;

Grant of Certificate:

On making the petition, if the District Judge is satisfied as to the ground of making the petition, he can grant an opportunity of hearing to persons who, in his/her opinion, should be heard. After hearing all parties, the Judge can decide the right of the petitioner to be granted the succession certificate. The Judge would then pass an order for grant of certificate specifying the debts and securities set forth in the application empowering the person to receive interest or dividend or to negotiate or transfer or do both.

Are there any restrictions imposed on Succession Certificates?

A court can sometime require a bond with one or more surety or sureties or any other security for rendering an account of debts and securities received by the petitioner having the succession certificate for indemnifying the persons who may be entitled to any part of the debt or securities.

What is the Validity of a Succession Certificate?

A succession certificate has validity throughout India. If a certificate is granted in a foreign country by an Indian representation accredited to that State, it should be stamped in accordance with the Court Fees Act 1870 to have the same effect in India as a certificate granted in India.

What are the effects of grant of a Succession Certificate?

The certificate acts as a substantial document of law against those owing debts and securities to the deceased and indemnifies those who have made the payments or the dealings in respect the debts and securities.
A succession certificate is granted by the Courts to the legal heirs of a person dying intestate leaving debts and securities. Thus, considering the entire process, it is always beneficial to write a will or appoint a nominee in all the financial accounts like stocks, saving accounts, fixed deposits or mutual funds.

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Advocate Aditya Pratap
About Advocate Aditya Pratap 65 Articles
Aditya Pratap is a lawyer practising in Mumbai. He argues cases in the Bombay High Court, Sessions and Magistrate Courts, along with appearances before RERA, NCLT and the Family Court. For further information one may visit his website adityapratap.in or view his YouTube Channel to see his interviews. Questions can be emailed to him at aditya@adityapratap.com.