Succession Certificate in India

Succession Certificate in India


How do you get a succession certificate in India? This question is central for those managing the assets of a deceased relative who did not leave a will. The process involves legal procedures under the Indian Succession Act, particularly when a person has died intestate, leaving behind assets without a clear heir through a will. 

A succession certificate empowers the rightful heirs to manage the deceased’s debts and securities, ensuring that financial transactions and claims are handled with legal authority. This certificate is crucial for collecting assets and protects entities that settle debts with the holder from potential legal complications.


What is a Succession Certificate? 


A Succession Certificate, governed by the Indian Succession Act of 1925, is a legal document issued by a civil court in India, certifying a person as the rightful successor to the deceased’s debts and securities and is empowered to facilitate the transfer of the deceased person’s securities, such as shares, bonds or other financial instruments, to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. This certificate is crucial where the deceased did not leave a valid will outlining the distribution of their assets. This certificate serves as evidence of the rightful successor’s entitlement to the deceased person’s estate.

In the context of Indian law, a succession certificate governs several crucial aspects related to the deceased person’s estate:

  • Property: The certificate allows for the orderly transfer of both movable and immovable property owned by the deceased.
  • Debts: It enables the certificate holder to manage and settle the debts and obligations of the deceased.
  • Securities: The certificate provides the necessary authorization for the transfer or realization of securities held by the deceased.

A Succession Certificate in India is a vital legal document for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) involved in inheritance affairs. The certificate enables NRIs to legally claim and manage the deceased’s debts and securities without a will. It provides a clear legal status to NRIs, facilitating smoother transactions with financial institutions and creditors in India, which often require proof of inheritance rights before releasing funds or transferring ownership of securities and assets. A Succession Certificate is indispensable for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in several scenarios:

  1. Managing Financial Assets: NRIs rely on the certificate to administer the bank accounts and investments left by the deceased in India.
  2. Property Title Transfer: It plays a crucial role in facilitating the transfer of property titles or assets registered under the deceased’s name.
  3. Debt and Securities Settlement: NRIs require the certificate to effectively settle any outstanding debts or securities of the deceased.
  4. Legal Authentication: Serving as a vital legal document, the certificate provides NRIs with the necessary authorization in both judicial proceedings and financial institutions, affirming their rightful claim to the assets left by the deceased.”


Legal Framework for Succession Certificates in India 


The legal framework for succession certificates in India is governed by the Indian Succession Act of 1925, specifically sections 370 to 390. This framework provides for the issuance of succession certificates by a District Court, enabling legal heirs to manage the debts and securities of a deceased person who has died intestate (without a will). The certificate is crucial for settling the deceased’s debts and transferring securities without disputes, serving as a valid legal document that banks and other financial institutions require to release assets to the rightful claimants.

The Indian Succession Act of 1925 serves as the primary legislation governing asset distribution for deceased individuals in India, holding particular relevance for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in two main ways:

  • Legal Framework for Inheritance: It establishes the legal framework for asset distribution, especially in instances where the deceased has not drafted a will. This provides clarity and structure to the inheritance process for NRIs navigating legal matters in India.
  • Uniformity in Legal Principles: The Act ensures consistency in the application of inheritance laws. This uniformity simplifies the process for NRIs by offering a standardized set of rules to follow. 

In India, succession laws vary widely across different religious communities, each governed by their specific religious laws and cultural practices. Here’s how these laws differ among major religions:



Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists are governed by the Hindu Succession Act of 1956, amended in 2005 to grant daughters equal rights as coparceners to ancestral property, similar to sons.

Properties inherited from a will are distributed as per the will’s directions, but in the absence of a will, the Act lays out a specific hierarchy, starting from the immediate family moving outwards.



Islamic succession is determined by Sharia law, based on the Quran. The law prescribes fixed inheritance shares where males typically receive twice the share of females. This reflects the financial responsibilities men have according to Islamic teachings. In cases where there are no male heirs, daughters may receive larger shares, though these are adjusted when other relatives are present. These rules apply strictly unless a will specifies otherwise, provided it adheres to Islamic stipulations that a Muslim can only bequeath one-third of their estate through a will.



Governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925, which applies uniformly across various denominations except for Roman Catholics, who may also be subject to Canon Law in ecclesiastical matters. The act ensures distribution of the deceased’s estate among the spouse and children, or among extended relatives if no direct heirs exist. This law emphasizes equal rights for sons and daughters in inheriting property.

  • The wife receives one-third of the property, with the remaining equally divided among the children. 
  • Children will share the property if there is no wife
  •  If there are no children, the wife and the husband’s relatives share the property equally
  • Finally, it will devolve upon the parents of the deceased



Parsis are also covered under the Indian Succession Act, 1925. The inheritance rights for Parsis do not distinguish between genders, focusing instead on a fair and equitable distribution among all heirs. The act specifies how assets should be divided among family members, both immediate and extended.

  • Half of the property goes to the wife, and the rest is divided equally among the children. 
  • If there is no wife, children share the property equally
  • If neither wife nor children survive, the assets go to the deceased’s parents.


Steps to Obtain a Succession Certificate 

Here’s a step-by-step guide outlining the process for applying for a Succession Certificate in India:


Step 1: Filing a Petition

  • The legal heirs of the deceased should draft a petition to claim ownership of the deceased’s assets. Ensure it includes all necessary details.
  • Fill out the petition form in the authorized format.
  • Submit the completed petition to the civil court having jurisdiction, along with a copy of the death certificate.
  • Clearly mention the date, time, and place of the deceased’s death, details of other legal relatives or heirs, description of the deceased’s residence or property falling within the court’s jurisdiction, petitioner’s rights, and any Absence of any impediment to the grant of certificate.
  • Attach identification documents such as Ration Card or Passport.
  • Include a list of the securities or debts for which the certificate is being applied.


Step 2: Submitting Fees

  • Pay the required court fees, for the succession certificate, three percent of the total value of the property is charged.


Step 3: Receiving the Certificate

  • If no objections are raised within the specified period, the court grants the succession certificate to authenticate the established claim.


Step 4: Signing the Indemnity Bond

  • To prevent misuse of the granted certificate, the court may require the petitioner to sign an Indemnity Bond.


Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is the alternative to a succession certificate? 

A number of other documents such as legal heirship certificates, nominations and death certificates may be procured, as an alternative to a succession certificate, for the purpose of establishing an inheritance or aiding in the transfer of assets from the deceased. It is comparatively easier to obtain these documents. In some cases, a legal heirship certificate may be relied upon in the place of a succession certificate merely because family members are able to obtain a legal heirship certificate with much ease and speed.


2. How long does it take to make a succession certificate?

Obtaining a succession certificate can take several months, depending on factors like case complexity and court efficiency. After filing the petition, a notice is published, allowing around 45 days for objections. Responding to objections, court proceedings, and issuance of the certificate follow. This process may take anywhere from a few months, legal guidance can help navigate the process efficiently.


3. How can I get a succession certificate in Delhi?

To obtain a succession certificate in Delhi, you’ll need to file a petition with the District Court, pay court fees, address objections, attend hearings and ultimately receive the certificate. This process can be legally intricate, and having proper guidance is essential. For comprehensive legal support throughout these proceedings, A. Agarwalla with expertise in succession law and a strong understanding of the legal landscape in Delhi, provides tailored advice and ensures a smooth process for obtaining the succession certificate.


4. Can foreign nationals apply for a Succession Certificate in India?

Yes, foreign nationals can apply for a Succession Certificate in India. While there are no explicit restrictions based on nationality, they must fulfill specific requirements and adhere to Indian succession laws and procedures. It’s advisable for foreign nationals to seek legal guidance to navigate the process effectively.


5. What are the special considerations for foreign nationals when applying for a Succession Certificate in India?

Special considerations for foreign nationals when applying for a Succession Certificate in India include:

  • Legal Assistance: It’s advisable for foreign nationals to seek legal assistance from a qualified lawyer experienced in Indian succession law to navigate the process smoothly and effectively.
  • Documentation: They must provide relevant documents, such as the death certificate of the deceased, proof of their relationship to the deceased and any other documents required by the court.
  • Jurisdiction: Foreign nationals must ensure that they file the application in the appropriate jurisdiction, typically where the deceased’s assets are located.
  • Compliance: They need to comply with Indian succession laws and procedures, which may differ from those in their home country.


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