I am the only child and both my parents are not alive any more. My father had made a will that only mentions immovable property which has been transferred to my name. However, investments such as bonds, National Savings Certificates and post office savings require separate succession certificates. The bonds which had my name as nominee have been transferred. However, one of them has my parents as joint holders without a nominee. Now, I have been asked to submit a succession certificate. In this case, will a declaration on stamp paper and an indemnity bond suffice to transfer the bonds to my name or is there another way out?
With respect to the property that has not been bequeathed by your father in his will, he would be said to have died intestate (i.e. without executing a will). We are assuming that your mother, too, had not executed a will with respect to the bonds that were held in joint name with her.
As per the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, in order to administer and deal with properties of a person who has died intestate, one would need either a succession certificate or letters of administration.
As set out in an earlier column, a succession certificate when granted gives the grantee (i.e. the person the certificate is granted to) authority to recover the debt due to the deceased. Therefore, a succession certificate is normally applied for and granted only in respect of debts and securities. Since the properties in question are securities (bonds) and national/post office saving certificates, it would be necessary to apply for one if required by the companies/ banks/post office in question. However, it may be noted that such a certificate does not establish the title of the grantee as the heir of the deceased or give any general power of administration of the estate of the deceased.
Generally, companies/banks/post office have their own policies with respect to sums to be paid over to the heirs of deceased persons. Since payment to a grantee pursuant to a succession certificate is a good discharge of debt and no third person can question such payment, most companies/banks/ post office would require a succession certificate to be obtained. Thus, a declaration on stamp paper and an indemnity bond may not suffice for the purposes of transferring the bonds in question to your name unless the companies/banks/the post office in question are willing to waive the requirement of obtaining a succession certificate and are further willing to rely on an indemnity-cum-undertaking.
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