A person who owns self-acquired properties immovable or movable can dispose of his properties by way of a Will, Gift, Release Deed etc. in favor of a legal heir or any person of his choice. However, what happens if that person has not made any of the above document, then in that case what happens to his property? In such a scenario if the legal heirs of such person want to get a hold on such a property, then they have to apply to the Civil Court to prove that they are the legal heirs of the person who has died and now they want to succeed to his properties.
In accordance with the Indian Constitution, a legal document that aids in determining who is a person's next of kin or who is the legal successor is called as a Legal Heir Certificate. It includes information like the deceased 's (dead person) name, age, marital status and as well as the relationship to the deceased person's legal heirs. A Legal Heir Certificate is issued by a Competent Court to the rightful legal heirs who want to succeed to the deceased’s immovable & movable properties and a Succession Certificate is granted by the Competent Court to the rightful legal heirs who want to succeed to the deceased’s movable properties only. If the deceased person who has left behind immovable & movable properties then the legal heirs can apply for getting a legal heirship certificate to the local Tehsil Office in the Taluka where the deceased last resided or the property is situated.
WHAT IS A LEGAL HEIR / SUCCESSION CERTIFICATE?
A Legal heir certificate is an important document which ascertain the relationship between the deceased and his/ her legal heirs. It basically identifies the rightful successor, who later can claim the properties of the deceased person. It is required for every eligible successor to possess this certificate in order to claim the deceased person’s property in case where the deceased has not made the will.
DISTINCTION BETWEEN HEIR CERTIFICATE AND A SUCCESSION CERTIFICATE
A legal heir certificate and a succession certificate serve quite different functions, so it is crucial to be aware of this distinction. A legal heir certificate is made to define a relationship for the purpose of claims of the deceased’s properties involving immovable properties like land, Building, Flat etc. A succession certificate enables the legal heirs to transfer the deceased person's movable property, shares, mutual funds, LIC, PF, Fixed Deposits and debts in their own names.
The followings are the list of documents which are required in order to obtain a legal heir certificate:
- Death Certificate of the deceased
- Heirship Petition
- Supporting Affidavit to the Petition.
- Identity/Address proof of the applicant (Aadhaar Card, Driving License, Passport, Voter’s ID or any other government-issued identity card).
- Documents related to property like in case of immovable property the registered agreement, Share Certificate and in case of movable property the documents proving the title of the deceased person.
- Photographs of the Legal Heirs making the Petition.
PROCEDURE IN CIVIL COURT:
Legal heirship certificate can be obtained from the civil court by the legal heirs of the concerned deceased by submitting a petition along with necessary documents and requisite Court fees. The Court verifies all the documents along with the paper publication which essentially calls for objections if any to the legal heirship petition and once 30 days have passed and there are no objections to the petitioner’s claim to succeed to the deceased person’s properties, the Court finally makes an order declaring the petitioners to be the legal heirs of the deceased.
If all the legal heirs of the deceased are applying to succeed the properties of the deceased, they can make a joint petition by attaching the death certificate of the deceased (Dead Person) and all the property related documents before the Civil Court of the concerned district.
Normally after submitting the petition the advocate for the petitioner has to check with the registry of there are any office of objections and further clear all those objections. Once the office objections are cleared, then the registry will send the case file to I.T. department and thereafter, the case status can be checked by the concerned parties on the e-courts website of the government.
The date will be notified on the website and on the 1st date of hearing, the advocate for the applicant (Legal Heirs who are making an application/petition) has to make an application for paper publication.
Step 4: The Advocate for the Applicant has to get the Public Notice & proclamation signed & stamped from the concerned Court and then give those copies to the paper publication agency.
Step 5: The Newspaper agency will publish the public notice in the regional newspaper inviting objections to the Legal Heirship Application filed by the Applicant within period of 30 days.
Step 6: The Advocate for the Applicant has to make an application to the Court requesting for a Bailiff Order and once this order is obtained the Court Bailiff (Officer of the Court) makes physical visit to the properties to see who is currently holding the property and then submits the report in the Court.
Meanwhile the advocate for the Applicant also has to submit valuation report of the properties in the Court. The valuation report of the immovable properties can be obtained immediately from the local Sub Registrar Office by coordinating with a local agent and paying the nominal government fees within one or two working days.
The Advocate for the Applicant after the paper publication, property visit , valuation reports all these steps as mentioned above are completed on the 2nd or 3rd effective hearing date has to file the Evidence Affidavit of the Applicant along with original or true copies of the documents related to the property. The Court will check the evidence affidavit & the accompanying documents & record the statement of the Applicant.
If the property is to be given to only a few selected legal heirs then the other remaining legal heirs are made as opposing parties and their No Objection Affidavit has to be filed and they also have to come to the Court and tell the Court that they have no objection in the grant of legal heir certificate in favor of only few selected legal heirs.
Once 30 days period of paper publication is over and Evidence Affidavits & relevant property documents, No Objection Affidavits (If applicable), Valuation Reports everything is finally verified by the Court and the Advocate for the Applicant has to present a short argument and then finally Court makes an order for grant of legal heirship/succession certificate as applicable in favor of the applicant.
Once the Order granting Legal Heirship certificate is pronounce by the Court the Advocate for the Applicants submits the true copies of identification & address proof documents of the legal heirs & pays the requisite Court Fees on behalf of the Applicant.
The Court Fees depend upon the valuation of property however if the value of the property is above Rs.5,00,000/- the Court Fees is Rs.75,000/- which is the maximum Court Fees applicable irrespective of the value of the property. The professional fees of the legal process depend upon the knowledge & experience of the advocate handling the process.
The time required to get a legal heirship/succession certificate from the Civil Court varies anywhere from between 90-180 days realistically.
PROCEDURE WHEN DECEASED IS A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE
Legal heir certificates can be obtained from the local Taluk/Tehsildar, as well as the corporation/municipality office in case when the deceased person is a government employee. This document, which is only issued after a careful look, details of the deceased person's lawful heirs. Generally, it takes around thirty days to obtain a legal heir certificate. Contact the Tehsildar/Sub-Divisional Officer if the certificate is not received on time or if the appropriate authorities are silent. The steps needed to receive a legal heir certificate are given below:
Visit the Taluk Office
The applicant needs to visit the Taluk or Tehsildar Office.
Get the application form
The application form must be obtained by the applicant from the relevant Tehsildar official.
Fill up the information
The application form must be filled out properly by the applicant.
Attach the required documents
The applicant must attach all required documents to the application form after filling all the necessary information.
Attaching the stamp
The applicant must stamp the application form with a stamp as per the local state laws or regulation prevailing at a given time.
Submit your application
The applicant must hand the authorized officer the application form in the Tahsildar Office.
Process of Verification
The Tehsildar/Sub-Divisional Officer checks the application.
Issue of the certificate
The appropriate official will issue the certificate listing all the deceased's lawful heirs after the verification process is complete. In case of any delay one can approach to the Revenue Division Officer or Sub- collector with their grievances.
The costs for legal heirship process before the Revenue Authority is nominal & the professional charges are also very less compared to a Court procedure.
Usually it takes around 15- 30 days to complete the process from processing the information to issuing the certificate from the Revenue Authority.