WHY IS SUCCESSION CERTIFICATE IMPORTANT TO CLAIM FINANCIAL ASSETS?

The concept of Succession Certificate is of great relevance, and it helps resolve the conflict between various claimants and enables a party to collect any debt or security which belonged to the deceased. Legal heirs are to be advised to obtain a succession certificate to strengthen their status. 

The Indian Succession Act, 1925 defines a succession certificate as a certificate/document the court issues to the authentic legal heirs of a deceased person so that it can establish their legitimacy as the heirs. It gives them the power to inherit the deceased’s shares, securities, debts, and other movable assets. A civil court issues this document to the legal heirs of a deceased person. This document certifies the rightful person to be the successor of such deceased person. 

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 The Succession certificate facilitates the collection of the debts on succession and gives protection to the parties paying debts to the representatives/legal heirs of the deceased person. The Indian Succession Act, 1925, Chapter X, deals with this certificate. 

Purpose

In general terms, Succession Certificate has a two-fold purpose- first to protect the legal heirs and second to protect the debtors as to risk. The deceased is entitled to some debts, and the primary function of this certificate is to assist the heir in the collection of such debts, and it is also to ensure that the succession laws are duly followed. Scope of a succession certificate is limited in respect of shares, securities, debts and provident fund, deposits in banks, insurance, or any other security of the central government or the State Government.

Significance

A succession certificate is essential to claim financial assets. Banks and financial institutions are extremely stringent as to the requirement of this certificate. The reason behind the same is rising cases of impersonation and forgery.

In earlier times, banks have even faced difficulty wherein some legal heirs of the deceased have obtained transfers without the consent of other legal heirs and have faced litigation from the remaining heirs as to irregular transfer of funds. Another reason why banks and financial institutions press for this certificate is to discharge themselves from any liability. 

There have been cases wherein, the nominee to an account has claimed to be the rightful owners of the funds in the bank accounts. However, the nominee is the only caretaker of the bank account after the demise of the deceased. The right of the legal heirs remains unaffected by the nominee. Thus, it becomes significant to demand a succession certificate to claim financial assets. 

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Who can issue a Succession certificate?

As per the Indian Succession Act, 1925, the succession certificate is issued by the Court, i.e. District Judge. The judge is from the relevant court that has jurisdiction in the district where the deceased person resided. In case no such place is available, then the jurisdiction within which any property belonging to the deceased may be found is authorized to issue the document.

Who can apply for a Succession certificate?

A person of sound mind, a major, and having an interest in the estate of the deceased can apply for Succession Certificate. A succession certificate once granted is valid throughout India as per section 380 of The Indian Succession Act, 1925. 

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Cancellation of Succession Certificate

As per section 383, it can also be revoked/canceled under certain specific situations such as fraud, defective proceedings, where the certificate becomes useless due to circumstances, etc. 

Conclusion

Succession certificate is of great significance in contemporary terms of Succession. Rising crime as to fraudulently obtaining the Succession of deceased persons by persons in fiduciary relationships with the deceased, against the interest of the kith and kin of the deceased, are on the rise. The legitimate legal heirs had to face harassment and lengthy legal battles to be able to establish their legal rights. Besides significant monetary loss, this causes great hardship and injustice to the successors of such deceased persons who died intestate. Thus, the concept of it to protect the rights of the beneficiaries is relevant even in today’s scenarios wherein nomination is also not considered complete proof for Succession and is only applicable in terms of safeguarding the interest of the deceased person. 

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Miscellaneous

A Succession Certificate establishes the legal heirs and the authenticity of the successor. It is a Certificate issued to the successor of a deceased person who dies without leaving a Will. 

 In the absence of a Will, this becomes the primary and most crucial document/certificate through which the heirs have a right or can stake a claim to the assets of a deceased relative. Moreover, it also protects the payer that the debt released by him has gone to a certified individual/person.

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The successor would receive assets as well as inherit any debts/loans to be paid, as per the Indian Succession Act, 1925. As a top law firm in UK offering a gamut of services, we excel in assisting the NRIs in getting all their property matters resolved, saving them the cumbersome traveling woes. As a professional real estate management firm, with a team of 500 qualified and efficient lawyers in Pan India, we assist the NRIs in securing their legal rights in all matters of property, finance, and banking.

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