Who is a Legal Heir?

Cambridge dictionary defines an heir as an individual who receives or inherits either an interest or an ownership of immovable property from a person who has died intestate (without will). As defined by the Indian Law, following are considered to be the legal heirs of a person:

  • Spouse – Husband or wife of the deceased.
  • Son and daugher of the deceased
  • Mother and father of the deceased
Legal Heir Certificate and Succession Certificate in India

Legal Heir Certificate

As mentioned above the process to obtain a legal heir certificate is an easy process and does not involve much legal work and it is that simple to the extent that it can easily be obtained from the panchayat as well and one need to submit the following documents in order to obtain one:

  1. Self-undertaking in the form of a notarized affidavit
  2. Letter from the department of the deceased employee in order to obtain a legal heir certificate from the DC office
  3. Identity proof such as Voter ID Card or Aadhar Card or Driving License or Passport or Arm’s License with a photograph
  4. List of all legal heirs and their residence proof such as passport, telephone bill, Voter ID card or ration card or Aadhar card
  5. Date of birth proof of all legal heirs
  6. Death certificate of the deceased person in the original
  7. Residence certificate of the deceased

Once all relevant documents are in order, you need to follow below mentioned steps in order to obtain a legal heir certificate:

  1. Submit the duly filled form to the concerned department. Also it is important to carry all the relevant documents and stamp fees need to be paid.
  2. The above mentioned step is executed by an expert lawyer on your behalf and once the form is submitted, an enquiry will be conducted to validate the details and information mentioned in the form.
  3. Revenue Inspector as well as Village Administrative Officer will conduct the inspection and make their remarks, if any. In case all the details in the form is validated without any loopholes, the legal heir certificate is issued and the whole process from submitting the form till the certificate is issued takes approximately 15-30 days.
  4. In case, it is not issued within a reasonable period of time, you can approach the concerned authority i.e. the tehsildar to submit your grievance and in case you do not get any response from the former’s office, you can escalate the issue to concerned RDO or sub-collector office. While it is easy to apply and obtain a legal heir certificate it is advisable to take help of an expert advocate who can assist you with the paperwork.

Succession Certificate

As mentioned in the above paragraphs, you have to move either to a civil or a high court to obtain a succession certificate and is nothing but a certificate issued to the legal heirs of a person who has died intestate (without will) and has left certain debts and securities and thus it makes its holder responsible to make the payment of debt and also transfers the securities without having to ascertain the legal heir entitled to it and the prime reason why most of people and organization asks for a succession certificate is mainly because it provides indemnity to all persons owing such debts or liable on such securities.

In order to obtain a succession certificate, you have to file your petition with the district judge as per the jurisdiction of the deceased person and in case he or she had no fixed place of residence, you can file the petition with the district judge as per the jurisdiction of any part of the property of the deceased. Irrespective of the jurisdiction you file your petition for obtaining the succession certificate.

Succession Certificate must contain below mentioned details:

  1. Time and place of death of the deceased
  2. Details of family or other near relatives
  3. Residence or details of properties of the deceased at the time of death within which Judge the jurisdiction falls under
  4. The rights of the petitioner
  5. Absence of any impediment to the grant of certificate

Apart from including the above mentioned particulars in your petition, it is important to submit the following documents along with the petition:

  1. Death certificate in original
  2. Pan card of all the legal heirs
  3. Ration card of all the legal heirs
  4. Application form

Once you have entered the above mentioned particulars in your petition and submitted the same with the concerned district judge, it is up to the judge to decide if a hearing is to be done or not i.e. if the judge is satisfied and finds ground of petition valid, he will issue a hearing date and hear all parties. Before the judge gives a hearing date, the court will issue a notice in the leading newspapers for 45 days and anyone having any objection with the same; can file his or her objections with the court. However, in case of no objection, the judge will go ahead with the hearing as scheduled.

After he has heard all parties, he i.e. the district judge issues the order to grant the succession certificate specifying the debts and securities associated with the deceased person in order to empower the petitioner to receive interest or dividend or in order to negotiate or transfer or do both. Once a succession certificate is issued, it is valid throughout India and in case it has been issued in any other country by an Indian representative accredited to that particular country, the succession certificate should be stamped as per the Court Fees Act 1870 in order to have the same effect in India as any other succession certificate granted in India.

Difference between Legal Heir Certificate and Succession Certificate

Legal heir certificate and succession certificate though sounds similar to ear, are totally different from each other and while a legal heir certificate is only issued from the revenue office of the district of the deceased person, a succession certificate is a document which is governed by the Indian Succession Act, gives authority to the person to represent the deceased in order to collect debts and insecurities due or payable to the deceased.

Other important differences between the legal heir certificate and succession certificate are mentioned as below:

  1. In case of death of a family member, the next legal heir i.e. the wife or the husband or son or daughter or mother are considered and can apply for obtain a succession certificate, which can be later used to transfer all connections of the deceased such as electricity connection, telephone connection, house tax, bank account, filing of IT returns etc. Whereas if the deceased person was a government employee, then the legal heir certificate is issued in order to get approval for family pension or to get appointments on concerned grounds. A legal heir certificate is also issued in case of transfer of movable or immovable property.
  2. It is very important to know the right perspective both in the case of legal heir and succession certificate. For example a succession certificate is required only if someone has inherited any immovable or movable property as per various property laws in India.
  3. In India, one can obtain succession certificate either from a civil court or from a high court however legal heir certificates are issued by the Tehsildar of the district in order to identify heir of the deceased person.
  4. Spouse/son/daughter/mother can apply for a legal heir certificate however; it is only the legal heir which can apply for a succession certificate.
  5. In order to obtain a succession certificate, one need to submit documents such as death certificate of the deceased, time and place of his death, details of all heirs and their relation with the deceased person whereas for a legal heir certificate, one need to submit documents such as death certificate in original, identity card, ration card, the name of family members and their relationship with the deceased, an affidavit of Rs 20 on a stamp paper.
  6. One does not have to shell out much money in case of heir certificate and Rs 2 for a stamp and Rs 20 for stamp paper for affidavit is all which one would need to obtain it, whereas 3% of total value of the property will be charged for succession certificate.
  7. A legal heir certificate is normally issued within 15-30 days of application whereas the process and time required for obtaining a succession certificate is more. Firstly, a newspaper notice for 45 days will be issued and in case no objections are received by the court in the specified time period, it will issue succession certificate in a time span of 5-7 months.
  8. Main usage of a legal heir certificate is to obtain gratuity, pension insurance, PF, retirement claims etc whereas a succession certificate is used mainly for the transfer or possession of property or for paying debts or security on behalf of a deceased person or for collecting debts or security on behalf of the deceased.

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