How to apply for succession certificate in the court

How to apply for succession certificate in the court

A Succession Certificate is a document that is granted by a civil court to the legal heirs of a deceased who dies without leaving a will. It is granted by the court to realize the debts and securities of the deceased. In the case of Muthia vs Ramnatham,[1] , it was held that the privilege of certificate gives to the grantee a right to recover the debt due to the deceased person, and payment to the grantee is a good release of the debt.” It establishes the authenticity of the heirs and gives them the authority to have securities and other assets transferred in their names as well as inherit debts. In the absence of a will, if there is no heir amongst the account owners and a no nomination had been prepared by the holder (s), a succession certificate is the primary certificate through which the heirs can stake a claim to the assets of a deceased relative.

A Succession certificate is issued by the government, usually to establish a relationship for claims relating to Insurance, pension, retirement benefits or service benefits of central and state government departments, Government undertakings etc. In legal succession cases sine qua non to obtain a succession certificate is to establish the relationship.

In the matter of Paramananda Chary vs Veerappan[2] , it was held that ”The grant of succession certificate is conclusive against the debtor. Also if another person turns out to be the heir of the deceased, it does not follow that the certificate is invalid”. All required documents are to be submit while lodging the application.

Procedure to apply for Succession Certificate to The District Judge under section 372 of the Act;

  • the petitioner must sign and verify the petition;
  • the residences of the relatives and family of the deceased must be mentioned;
  • in the case of The Hindu Succession Act (Act XXX OF 1956), the names of the heirs must be mentioned in the petition;
  • the right of the petitioner should be mentioned;
  • either Ordinary house of the deceased, at the time of death, or the estate of the deceased should be inside the limits of the Jurisdiction of the Court concerned;
  • the debts and securities as to which the succession certificate is applied for should be mentioned; vii) the absence of any impediment u/sec. 370(1) of the Act or any other terms of the Act or any other laws to the privilege of succession certificate or to the legality of it in case of it was granted, must be mentioned


[1] 1918 MWN 242

[2] AIR 1928 Madras 213: 82 IC 604,


need of succession certificate

A Succession Certificate is a certificate which is granted by 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. Succession Certificates entitle the holders to make payments of debt or transfer securities to the holder of the certificate without having to ascertain the legal heir entitled to it. Succession Certificates provide indemnity to all members owing such debts and liable on such securities with regards to all payments made to or dealings made in good faith with a person to whom a certificate has been granted. Therefore, many persons and organizations request for succession certificates before settling the debts or securities of the deceased in favour of the person claiming such debts and securities.


To obtain such a certificate, a petition to the District Judge within whose jurisdiction the deceased person ordinarily resided at the time of his/her death or, if at that time he/she has no fixed place of residence, the District Judge within whose jurisdiction any part of the property of the deceased may be found.


A petition for 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 within the jurisdiction it falls under;
  • Details of family or other near relatives;
  • Rights of the petitioner;
  • Absence of any impediment to the grant of the certificate.


On making the petition, if the District Judge is satisfied with the grounds of the petition, he/she can grant an opportunity of hearing to the person who, in his/her opinion, should be heard. After hearing the case from 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 the grant of certificate specifying the debts and securities set forth in the application empowering the person to receive the interest or dividend or to negotiate or transfer or do both.


A Succession Certificate is valid across India. If a certificate is granted in a foreign country by an Indian representative 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.


Sometimes, a Court may 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 of succession certificate for indemnifying the persons who may be entitled to any part of the debtor the securities.

Difference between Succession Certificate and Letter of Administration

Succession Certificate and Letter of Administration

The right paper work goes a long way in getting your money to those you love when you are no more to help them out. When you approach a financial institution, bank, Mutual Fund AMC, Demat account, PPF etc. to inherit, they may ask for documents like Succession Certificate or Letter of Administration or Probated copy of the Will to ascertain that you are the legal heir. This may even happen when you have a valid will.

Succession Certificate

In the absence of a will, if there is no survivor amongst the account holders and a no nomination had been done by the holder(s) earlier, a Succession Certificate is to be the primary document through which the heirs can stake a claim to the assets of a deceased relative.  A succession certificate, under the Indian Succession Act, is a document that gives authority to the person who obtains it, to represent the deceased for the purpose of collecting debts and securities due to him or payable in his name. 

  • It establishes the authenticity of the heirs and give them the authority to inherit debts, securities and other assets that the deceased may have left behind.
  • The beneficiary has to approach the district or the high court within whose jurisdiction, i.e. legal territory, the assets fall (where the properties of your deceased relative are situated) and file a petition for a succession certificate.
  • The court, after examining the petition, issues a notice to all those concerned. It also issues a notice in a newspaper and specifies a time frame (usually one-and-a-half months) within which anyone who has objections may raise them. If no one contests the notice and the court is satisfied, it passes an order to issue a succession certificate to the petitioner.
  • Once you have the certificate, you are authenticated to distribute the assets to the legal heirs as per the succession laws.
  •  A Succession Certificate is not granted in cases where obtaining a Probate of Letter of Administration is necessary such as when there is a valid will.

Letter of Administration

Letter of Administration is issued by a competent authority (court) and appoints the Administrator to dispose of the property of a person. It is required when:

  • Testator has failed to appoint an executor under a Will OR
  • Where the executor appointed under a Will refuses to act  OR
  • Where executor has died before or after proving the Will but before administration of the estate.

A Letter of Administration can be granted after 14 clear days from the date of death of an intestate.

For obtaining a letter of administration the beneficiary has to apply to the court. The court on receiving satisfactory proof of valid execution of the will issues letter of administration to the beneficiary. The application for letter of administration has to contain the following details:

  • The time of the testator’s death
  • That the writing annexed in his last will and testament
  • That it was duly executed
  • The amount of assets which are likely to come to the petitioner’s hands, and
  • The petitioner is the executor named in the will

A Letter of Administration may be granted to one or several people who may apply to the Court. If no one applies, it may be granted to a creditor of the deceased. A Letter of Administration cannot be granted to a minor or a person of unsound mind.

Why you need a Succession Certificate

Succession Certificate Document

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The Value of a Succession Certificate

value succession certificate

Black Money, Benami Property, and Corruption are issues which are plague India, and the present Government is doing everything in its power to improve the country’s position. The steps taken by the government are eminent and effective. These steps might appear uncomfortable to those who have been used to defying the rules of the land, but they seek to build a more transparent, regulated and clean atmosphere in the country. In such an environment it is best to be prepared for all kinds of future situations especially about the matters related to property or various assets of a person.

When it comes to individual’s property or asset, he/she should try to be prepared for future – which is true in the case of NRIs. He/she can prepare a will in advance or appoint a nominee in all financial accounts like fixed deposits, stocks, saving accounts or mutual funds, etc., or can even file nominee for the property ownership.

But what happens when the person dies without preparing a Will? What steps can an heir take to obtain what is rightfully his? These situations raise a need for a solution which can help in claiming everything that belongs to the heir of the deceased.

In such a case where an individual dies without leaving a will (intestate), the legal heirs of the deceased person can apply in the court for the issuance of ‘Succession Certificate.’

Succession Certificate is a certificate granted to the legal heirs of the deceased person by the court so that they can claim the movable or immovable property along with the debts left behind by the deceased.

The issuance of such certificate is governed by The Indian Succession Act 1925. This certificate authorizes the heirs to get assets or securities transferred in their names. Along with the assets, the successor has to take responsibility and liability for clearing any debts or security attached to the property.

To obtain the certificate, the successor has to file a petition in the court. The petition should be filed with the competent jurisdiction where the property of the deceased person is located, or the dead person resided. In the petition the particular petitioner has to specify:-

  • His/ her name
  • The time, date and place of death
  • Relationship with the deceased person
  • Names of all heirs of the deceased person and attach the death certificate of the same.

After filing the petition with the court, a notice is issued in the newspaper. The notice specifies the period in which if any person has any objection he/she can do so if there is none the court issues the Succession Certificate to the petitioner.

It commonly takes 6 – 8 months from the date of filing the petition to obtain the Succession Certificate. The High Court and the District Court both have jurisdiction in the case of issuance of the certificate.

To claim what is rightfully yours is not wrong but sometimes it’s difficult to do so. Many times an NRI citizen who knows all the details of the property that in a way belongs to him/her finds himself/herself in a position where due to the lack of Will, claiming the same property becomes difficult.

In such a case if the NRI takes proper advice and consults with the appropriate property expert lawyers before taking a major step, claiming what is rightfully his/hers becomes easy. Prevention is better than cure!