WHAT AM I
I am a certificate issued by a court to the legal heirs of a deceased. I establish the authenticity of the heirs and give them the authority to inherit debts, securities and other assets that the deceased may have left behind.
HOW TO GET ME
To get me, the beneficiary has to approach the district or the high court within whose jurisdiction, i.e legal territory, the assets fall and file a petition for a succession certificate. Both these courts have concurrent jurisdiction, i.e they are both at par. The petition should mention the relation of the petitioner with the deceased, details of other surviving legal heirs and beneficiaries, the time, date and place of death and also if he died intestate. You will also have to attach the death certificate and other documents that the court may require.
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. If there is more than one petitioner, then the court may jointly grant them a certificate but it will not grant more than one certificate for a single asset.
WHEN AM I NEEDED
Ideally you would need a succession certificate to inherit the assets of the deceased or get them transferred in your name. But most banks and financial institutions usually release funds to the nominee. However the nominee is not the final beneficiary of the asset, he is only a trustee till the ultimate beneficiary can be determined. So in case a nominee refuses to cooperate or any other dispute arises, then one would require a succession certificate.
Similarly in case the amount is huge or the financial institution suspects foul play, it may ask you to produce a succession certificate. Also in certain states, a probate (a copy of the will, if it exists, authenticated by the court) and a succession certificate are compulsory to transfer the title of an immovable property.
HOW MUCH I COST
Apart from lawyer’s fees, courts levy a fixed percentage of the value of the estate as a fee. For instance, for the Delhi high court it ranges between 2% and 3%. In terms of time, if the petition is not contested then the court usually issues a succession certificate in five to seven months.