Difference between succession certificate and legal heirship certificate

Difference between succession certificate and legal heirship certificate


In today’s era one often thinks that succession certificate and legal heirship certificate are synonyms to each other but in reality, they aren’t. To apply for a succession certificate the eligible people are those who are directly related to the deceased. The use of Succession certificate is to transfer movable property like debts, shares, debentures, bank accounts, etc. A legal heirship certificate is also known as a legal heir certificate. This certificate is needed to make claims and inherit immovable properties.


What is a Succession certificate?


 A succession certificate is provided to the heirs of the deceased who has died intestate or passed away without leaving any will. According to the Indian Succession Act, of 1925 a certificate issued by the court to the family members of the deceased to establish their authenticity as legal heirs to inherit debts, securities, and assets of the deceased are called a Succession certificate.

A succession certificate is not a compulsion requirement when dealing with the movable property unless it is contested in a court of law to establish ownership over the said property. This a basic requirement if the legal heirs further wish to sell or administer the property themselves.


Things required to obtain a certificate.

To obtain a succession certificate, the legal heir must file an affidavit petition to the High Court or the District Judge to claim their right over the property of the deceased person. 

The application should have the following:

  • A copy of the death certificate which should include the time of death
  • The ordinary residence of the deceased and if in any case, no such residence is available, then the particulars of the property which lies in the jurisdiction of the court where the application has been filed
  • The rights of the petitioner
  • Copies of the passports or ration cards
  • The name, address, and other details of the legal heirs and other family members
  • A No Objection Certificate by the other heirs, other than the applicant
  • The assets and the securities for which the application has been made need to be mentioned


Once the application is filed in the District Court, the judge inspects and approves to publish of a notice of the same in the local newspaper calling for any objections. The period to protest is set to be 45 days after which the hearing date is fixed. In any case a person protests then he/she needs to do the same with valid documents as proof. At the date of the hearing, if the conditions are satisfied then the judge may grant the certificate to the applicant.

A person of sound mind can apply provided that he is a major in age and interested in the deceased’s property. A minor cannot file for an application but can be granted a succession certificate through a guardian.


What is a Legal Heirship certificate?

It is an important document obtained by the deceased person’s family members or legal heirs. After the demise of a person, a legal heir certificate is a must. It must be obtained for transferring of assets of the deceased. There is a need to establish the relationship between the deceased and the legal heirs for making claims relating to pension, provident fund, transfer of Bank Accounts, IT returns, etc when the deceased had died without choosing a nominee.


The following are considered legal heirs under Indian law:

  • Spouse of the deceased
  • Siblings of the deceased
  • Children of the deceased
  • Parents of the deceased


This certificate can be obtained from the local area’s municipality or corporation or the taluk tehsildar or District Civil Court. The certificate can be given only after a proper inquiry and listing down all the names of the legal heirs of the deceased person. 


Things required to obtain a certificate.

  • A signed application that should contain the names of all the legal heirs, their addresses, and their relationship with the deceased person.
  • Identity proof of all the applicants
  • Address proof of all the applicants
  • The death certificate of the deceased
  • Date of birth proof of all the applicants
  • Address proof of the deceased
  • Self-undertaking affidavit on stamp paper


Once, the said application is submitted then the inspector or the administrative officer conducts the inspection and completes the inquiry. The whole process takes 30 days. 


Basic Difference

  1. Purpose:

Succession certificate – It is required to acquire movable or immovable property by the legal heir in their own name. The certificate transfers the debts of deceased too. 

Legal Heirship certificate – It is required for claiming benefits that are entitled to deceased.

  1. Eligibility for applying:

Succession certificate – only successors of deceased can apply.

Legal Heirship certificate – Son, Daughter, husband, wife, parents of the deceased person can apply.

  1. Required fee:

Succession certificate – Three per cent of the total value of the property will be indicted. 

Legal Heirship certificate – Rs.2 for a stamp and Rs.20 for stamp paper for affidavit will be essential.


  1. Time period:

Succession certificate – Firstly, a advertisement is published in newspaper for a span of 45 days. If there are no objections received then the certificate is issued immediately 

Legal Heirship certificate – Around 15 days to 30 days

  1. Significance:

Succession certificate – This certificate is used for possession or transfer of the property or security or paying the debts on behalf of the deceased person or for collecting the debts or security on behalf of the deceased.

Legal Heirship certificate – This certificate is used for many purposes such as insurance, gratuity, PF retirement claims, pension etc. 

  1. Issuing Authority:

Succession certificate – District Court or High Court

Legal Heirship certificate – Municipality corporation or the taluk tehsildar or District Civil Court.


A succession certificate is required to inherit movable property by successors of the deceased through court where as legal heirship certificate is needed to claim benefits or entitlements of the deceased person by the legal heirs. However, the conditions may vary from state to state. 


Source: vakilsearch.com, taxreturnwala.com lawtendo, bhandarilawfirm and Indian Succession Act 1925

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