Succession Certificate Vs Legal Heir Certificate

Where ownership rights are granted in a property without proper identification of its legal heir, disputes arise. Property in inheritance generally passes on to the legal heir, after doing some legal formalities. These formalities are incomplete without proper legal documents indemnifying the recipients to be the actual heir/s or the legal recipients of the rights or property.

These documents are prepared on the basis of a legal will or self-declaring documents prepared by the deceased for transfer of his property to any person or group after his death. In absence of legal will, documents like Succession certificate or a legal heir certificate have to be obtained by the person to legally inherit the property of the deceased in his own name.

Certification for Legal Inheritance – Succession Certificate & Legal Heir Certificate

Succession Certificate
A Succession certificate is issued by the competent court to the person /group identified by it, as the legal successor of the deceased to grant him authority over all assets, securities, debts, and rights left by the deceased for his legal successor.

As per Section 381 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925, a Succession Certificate issued in approval of the District judge will only be the conclusive representation of the successor of the deceased. The court intervenes in a matter where a person has been deceased leaving some securities or debts behind. Without preparation of any will, the court identifies the legal successors of him and grants a succession certification. Other than the possession rights over the securities, the successor also becomes liable for debts left behind by the deceased to make their payments in good faith.

A Succession certificate includes particulars of – Name of deceased & successor, address and related particulars of both, rights of possession of successor over debts & securities of deceased, the relation of both, authentication from competent authorities, etc.

This Certificate is to be obtained by:

  • All those claiming to be the successor of the deceased.
  • Those legally identified by the competent court as successors

Legal Heir Certificate-

A legal heir certificate is to be obtained by every person to legally represent himself as the legal heir of the deceased person.

There can be sudden demise in the family. To acquire rights of deceased in various schemes or investments made by him during his lifetime or to which he was entitled when no nominee is selected, legal heirs have to obtain a legal heir certificate.

A legal heir certificate would be required by the legal heirs for claiming right over bank balance, property, insurance, pension, gratuity, provident fund, salary in arrears, or related benefits standing in name of the deceased person.

A legal heir certificate has to be obtained by:

  • Parents of the deceased
  • Spouse of the deceased
  • Children of the deceased or;
  • Siblings of the deceased.

Succession Certificate Vs Legal Heir Certificate
There is a misconception that Succession Certificate or Legal Heir Certificate means one and the same. But it is not true, as both seem to be serving a common purpose of providing the successors or legal heirs entitlement overall securities and debts of the deceased, but they are often considered as different from the legal point of view. A succession certificate holds validity for legal successors for claiming the movable/ immovable property of the deceased while a legal heir certificate is required for transfer or entitlement of benefits titled to the deceased.

The difference between both can be examined below:

Point of Difference Succession Certificate Legal Heir Certificate
Purpose A succession certificate is required to acquire movable or immovable property by the legal heir in their own name. The certificate also results in the transfer of debts on the successors of the deceased.

The certificate also assures the security of the creditors of the deceased for payments from the legal successors.

A legal heir certificate has limited relevance in the Succession Act and is required for claiming benefits like provident fund, pension, electricity bill connection, or other benefits that the deceased was entitled by the legal heir.
Eligibility for Application Only successors (children or grandchildren) of the deceased can apply or reach to the competent court to issue a succession certificate. Can only be obtained by legal heirs i.e: Parents, spouse, children, or siblings of the deceased.
Issuing Authority District court or competent court near to the residence of the deceased. Municipality / Administrative Officer / District Revenue officer
Conclusive Proof of Legal Heirship of Immovable Property Yes, as per the Indian Succession Act, 1925 No
Allotment Period Might take one or two months for allotment, as the certificate has to be published in a news daily for opposition for a specified period. Usually, allotted within 10 to 15 days
Subsidiary Document Issued by a court and cannot be ignored in any immovable property transfer or succession. Used as a subsidiary document is claiming legal heirship in property transfers.


How to obtain Certification for Legal Inheritance?

Obtaining a Succession Certificate
A Succession certificate can be applied by filing a petition, to any competent court near to the residence of deceased for grant of succession certificate. After all merit confirmations from the successors and related parties for confirmation of person/persons to be successors of the deceased and after making an advertisement for such petition in a news daily, the court issue a succession certificate.

Obtaining a Legal Heir Certificate

Legal heir certificate can be obtained by filing an application with the appropriate administrative officer of the area or the local municipality for a grant of certificate. The authorities (tehsildar/talukdar or any other officer appointed for the purpose ) will acknowledge the information and documents provided by the person purposing to be the legal heir and will issue a legal heir certificate.

Why Certification for Legal Inheritance is required?

Certification for legal inheritance is required to claim the benefits or entitlements of the deceased person by the legal heirs. A succession certificate is used to inherit the immovable or movable property by successors of the deceased through court legally.

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