Succession Certificate,Letter of Administration,Probate of Will

The right paper work goes a long way in getting YOUR money to THOSE you love when you are no more to help them out. When you approach a financial institution, bank, Mutual Fund AMC, Demat account, PPF etc to inherit, they may ask for documents like Succession Certificate or Letter of Administration or Probated copy of the Will to ascertain that you are the legal heir. This may even happen when you have a valid will. This post goes into details about these documents. This post is a part of series Paper Work in which had dealt with following:

Succession Certificate

In the absence of a will, if there is no survivor amongst the account holders and a no nomination had been done by the holder(s) earlier, a Succession Certificate is be the primary document through which the heirs can stake a claim to the assets of a deceased relative.  A succession certificate, under the Indian Succession Act, is a document that gives authority to the person who obtains it, to represent the deceased for the purpose of collecting debts and securities due to him or payable in his name. 
  • It establishes the authenticity of the heirs and give them the authority to inherit debts, securities and other assets that the deceased may have left behind.
  • Where the Application has to be made ? The beneficiary has to approach the district or the high court within whose jurisdiction, i.e legal territory, the assets fall(where the properties of your deceased relative are situated ) and file a petition for a succession certificate. Both these courts have concurrent jurisdiction, i.e they are both at par.  Depending on the value of the estate of the deceased, the matter shall go to the type of court, which can conduct cases for that value [This is known as "pecuniary jurisdiction" of the court]
  • 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. For this you have to then submit Judicial Stamp papers of sufficient amount (as per the prescribed court fees structure) in the court, whereafter the Certificate is typed by the court staff, duly signed and sealed and delivered.
  • Apart from lawyer’s fees, courts levy a fixed percentage of the value of the estate as a fee which may be upto 3% of the value of assets.
  • How long should it take to obtain the Succession certificate from the court ? If the petition is not contested then the court  should roughly take about 3-4 months (sometimes even 5-7) from date of filing to receive your certificate.
  • Once you have the certificate, you are authenticated to distribute the assets to the legal heirs as per the succession laws. Most people think that if the succession certificate is obtained then the person is the rightful owner of the deceased person’s properties, which is not true. A succession certificate allows the person to act exactly similar to how a nominee would act. It gives the authority to the holder for distributing the deceased person’s assets.
  • A Succession Certificate is not granted in cases where obtaining a Probate of Letter of Administration is necessary such as when there is a valid will.
Sample of the application Form for the Succession Certificate can be seen at:india.gov.in(Note:State mentioned is Arunchal Pradesh), and  downloadformsindia:Grant of succession certificate for state of Delhi

Some technical terms related to Will

Testate: When a person dies leaving a will, they are said to have died testate.
Intestate succession:When a person dies without leaving a will , they are said to have died intestate.
Testator is a person who makes a Will.
Legatee/Beneficiary is a person who inherits the property under a Will.
Codicil is an instrument made in relation to a Will, explaining, altering or adding to its dispositions and is deemed to be a part of the Will.
Executor An executor is a person who is appointed by a testator to execute his Will. In other words, an executor is duty bound to distribute the assets of the testator as per the provisions of his Will. He is the legal representative  of the deceased person (testator)

Probate of Will

Probate is a legal process in which the court  certifies the authenticity of the willIt establishes the legal character of the Executor to implement the Will and to the validity of the Will. Probate can be granted only to the executor appointed by the will. The appointment may be expressed or implied. A Probate is necessary when

  • Will or Codicil is that of Europeans, East Indians, Armenians, Jews, Indian Christians and Parsis.
  • Case of Wills or Codicils of Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs or Jains in Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai or where they relate to immovable propertyin these places.
  • Where a debt due to the estate of a Hindu is to be recovered.
  • A Probate can be granted only after seven clear days from the date of death of the person who has made the Will.
  • The cost of getting a probate includes legal fees as well as stamp duty on the value of the property being willed. The stamp duty varies from state to state.

How to obtain a probate of a will?
Quoting from  Economic Times 9 Jan 2012

A probate is a copy of a will certified by a court of competent jurisdiction. It proves that it is the last and final will of the deceased penned on a particular date. A probate is granted with the court seal and has a copy of the will attached to it. An administrator or executor appointed under the will may not be able to administer its provisions without a probate. It may also be necessary when the deceased leaves behind securities with various nominees and there is a dispute on their division. The nominee can only hold the assets in trust till these are divided as indicated in the will after a probate has been obtained. In the absence of a will or nomination, succession laws come into play. 

Application 
The application for a probate has to be made to the competent court (a pecuniary jurisdiction may require a higher court to issue a probate for high-value immovable assets) through a lawyer. 

Documents 
The court usually asks the petitioner to establish the proof of death of testator, proof that the will has been validly executed by the testator, and that it is the last will and testament of the deceased. 

Notification 
After receiving the petition or application for probate, the court issues a notice to the next of kin of the deceased to file objections, if any, to the granting of probate. It also directs the publication of a citation in a newspaper to notify the general public. 

Fees 
The court may impose a percentage of assets as a fee to issue a probate. In Maharashtra, for example, a court fee of  Rs 25 is payable for assets less than Rs 50,000; 4% for assets between Rs 50,000-2 lakh, and 7.5% for assets over Rs 2 lakh. There is a ceiling of  RS 75,000

Points to note 

  • Under the Indian Succession Act, a probate can be granted only to the executor appointed under a will. 
  • If the executor is not available to administer the estate, an application must be made for appointing the same by the court before applying for probate. 
  • A probate is a must when the will is for immovable assets in Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai. 

Probate of a Will when granted, establishes the genuineness of Will from the death of the testator and renders valid all intermediate acts of the Executor as such.

What will be the legal consequences if the Will is not Probated?If the Will which is required to be probated, under the Act, if not probated, has no legal sanctity and binding force.

A probate differs from succession certificate. A probate is issued by the court, when a person dies testate i.e.having made a will and the executor or beneficiary applies to the court for grant of probate. In case a person has not made a will his legal heirs will have to apply to the court for grant of a succession certificate which will be given as per applicable laws of inheritance.

If there is no will or a Will does not name any executor then one needs to get be  Letter of Administration

Letter of Administration

Letter of Administration is issued by a competent authority (court) and appoints the Administrator to dispose of the property of a person. It is required when :

  • Testator has failed to appoint an executor under a Will OR
  • Where the executor appointed under a Will refuses to act  OR
  • Where executor has died before or after proving the Will but before administration of the estate.

A Letter of Administration can be granted after 14 clear days from the date of death of an intestate.

For obtaining a letter of administration the beneficiary has to apply to the court. The court on receiving satisfactory proof of valid execution of the will issues letter of administration to the beneficiary. The application for letter of administration has to contain the following details:(Ref:Tax4India)

  1. The time of the testator’s death
  2. That the writing annexed in his last will and testament
  3. That it was duly executed
  4. The amount of assets which are likely to come to the petitioner’s hands, and
  5. The petitioner is the executor named in the will
A Letter of Administration may be granted to one or several people who may apply to the Court. If no one applies, it may be granted to a creditor of the deceased. A Letter of Administration cannot be granted to a minor or a person of unsound mind.

Proof Of Death

Proof of death is usually shown by submission of original Death Certificate. How to obtain Death Certificate at india.gov.in
  • If a person was killed in an action while serving in armed forces, the official notification may be produced in proof of death of the testator.
  • Where there is an air crash or sunk ship on the high seas and there is no possibility of survival and a persons body is not recovered the court may take notice of the occurrence and be satisfied regarding the fact of death.
  • Where a person disappears or is missing, such a person as per law is presumed to have died if he is not heard of for a period of seven years. Ref:Helpline.com

Q & A

From Hindu:I would like to know if it is mandatory for a registered will to be probated if it has been registered in a metro (delhi/new delhi ) with the sub-registrar. I heard from someone that if a will is registered with a sub – registrar in a metro/delhi/new delhi then it is not necessary and is accepted. Please advise.Gopesh Vasandani.

Our panellist R.L. Narayanan replies:“Probate” means proving a Will. It is granted to the executor named in the Will. A lot of factors may arise in the construction of a Will. The most important being whether the same is made voluntarily or whether there is any incapacity on the part of the person making the Will. Further, if the properties are situated in Kolkata, Chennai or Mumbai, in certain circumstances, probate or letters of administration, as the case may be, will be required. Certain other factors as to whether the same is the last Will and Testament, whether there is any other Will being propounded and many other matters have to be considered in deciding as to whether a Will needs to be probated or otherwise. This depends on the facts and circumstances of the case.

It might seem morbid  discussing about things when we are no more.  At a time of loss, loved ones are usually in deep turmoil and legalities can compound the turmoil. Please do the necessary paper work -use  Survivorship mandate, Nominations, Will. It will help in getting YOUR money to THOSE you love when you are no more to help them out.

DisclaimerPlease note while efforts have been made to provide correct information, We are not an expert in legal laws and it is advisable to visit a qualified lawyer for information on such laws before making any legal moves. We do not take any responsibility, if you read this post and act based on it. We also have no tie-up with any of the external websites mentioned in the post.  

33 Responses to Succession Certificate,Letter of Administration,Probate of Will

  1. Manikaran Singh Mann says:

    Excellent material. Quite helpful in understanding the difference between probate and letter of administration….Thank you…..Deeply obliged with posting such a body of work

  2. Krish Gopal says:

    I have applied for a succession certificate. Do I have to pay the court fees even for Insurance Claims ??
    My brother died intestate he was single and unmarried and there was no nominee in the Insurance.

    • bemoneyaware says:

      Check with the insurance company what documents they need. . As written in our article typically How to Claim Life Insurance .
      The insurance company may require the death certificate, policy document, deeds of assignments/ re- assignments, if any, legal evidence of title, if the policy is not assigned or nominated, medical attendant’s certificate and other documents as applicable.

  3. rachana thalwar says:

    We had a flat in my father in law’s name, though me and my husband have paid for it. My father in law expired in 1998 and had made a will in my mother in law’s name, however my brother in law managed to add his name in the property as coapplicant. When we came to know about it, my husband got a succession certificate and registered mother and two siblings that is brother in law and sister in law’s name in the corporation. Then my mother in law expired leaving a will for her share in my daughter in law’s name, so now we are unsure what is our share

  4. Niraj says:

    Hi,

    As per SEBI’s guideline, we need probate of will to transfer the shares valued 3,00,000+ on basis of will. But in Delhi the probate of will is not required.
    Share transfer agent Karvy is not ready to transfer the shares without probate. How to get transferred these shares. Please guide.

  5. KODVASRI says:

    owner of A land with a house there on died intestate. A legal heirship certificate was obtained in the name of widow and 3 siblings (one son and two daughters).The house was demolished with the concent of all as it was more than 4 decades old.The widow executed a settlement deed in favour of her grand son (borne to one of her daughters as the other two siblings have no male issues) as per the wish of her deceased husband.Now when the property is about to be redeveloped one of the siblings is not cooperating.

    The issues in which guidance is sought are
    a) Whether widow’s action of giving her share to her grand son by settlemnet deed is in order or does it suffer from any legal infirmity.
    b) Having agreed for demolition earlier (thru a written deed) can a sibling now prevent others from redevelopment of the property.
    c) If the agitated sibling is not cooperating what is the remedy left to others for going ahead with redevelopment of the property.What preautions are to be taken by them so that their action is not challenged by the non cooperative sibling?

  6. Gourav Samanta says:

    Hi, My mother has died five months ago leaving one will signed by herself. She has appointed me as executor for the movable and immovable properties in Kolkata. We are hindu. I have one elder brother without ties to the family since last twenty years. Now I want to get probate of this will. Is it possible and how? Please guide me.

  7. Abilio says:

    The house belong to my grandfather and he is experied , the nominee to the house are my aunty, my mother and myself.

    I am staying with my mother in the same house and paying the rent and I do not have the house document with me, due to some problem with my aunty and she is having the house document. Aunty is staying separately in different house with her husband and so can i claim the transfer the house in my name.

    • bemoneyaware says:

      Hello Sir,

      Has your grandfather left a will? If not Which religion did he belong to.
      Reason being property rules are governed by Hindu/Muslim acts.

      Thanks,

  8. Manjinder singh says:

    Hello ,
    my elder brother died intestate recently(feb 2015). he is having two daughters (1 from divorcee wife).his current wife had left the home after his death leaving both her daughters with us.(grand father and grand motherof both are alive).now we are paying all the
    school fees tution fees of both daughters.
    My brother is having 6 bigha agriculture land(land was purchased) and 2 trucks on his name. now problem is

    my bhabhi had refused to sign on transfer papers of trucks. kindly let me know

    (1) what are the rights of both daughters of my brother on his trucks?what are the rights of my bhabhi on his trucks?
    (2) do my mother had also any right on trucks or not?
    (3) can we sell trucks without my bhabhi’s signature(as she had refused to sign)and deposit my bhabhi’s share in court? if yes plz mention the procedure and how long would it take ?
    (4) if trucks are sold, in which ratio the amount would be shared among bhabhi,2 daughters and mother?
    (5) can we get trucks transfer on my brother’s elder daughter’s name?( her dob is 25.06.1998). what is the procedure?
    (6) most important what we can do if my bahbhi wont sign on transfer/sell papers of trucks?
    (7) our rto agent told tht we had to pay the taxes essentially? are we legally bound to pay the taxes?

    Kindly reply.
    Regards.

    • bemoneyaware says:

      Sad to hear about your brothers death. Please accept our condolences.

      Assuming your brother was Hindu, his mother, two daughters have a share. Share portion of the wife will be divided equally between two wives.

      Detailed ans is given below. We request you to ask some lawyer. Ref: Vakil no 1
      When a Hindu male dies intestate his property devolves around his legal heirs. Section 10 of the Hindu Succession Act,1956 gives in detail the list of Class I heirs who are go be given first preference while dividing the property of the deceased. Rule 1 of this Section provides for a share of property for the widow of the deceased. Rule 2 of this Section provides for a share each for the surviving sons and daughters and the mother of the deceased.

      Distribution of property among heirs in class I of the Schedule: The property of an intestate shall be divided among the heirs in class I of the Schedule in accordance with the following rules:-

      Rule 1.-The intestate’s widow, or if there are more widows than one, all the widows together, shall take one share.

      Rule 2.-The surviving sons and daughters and the mother of the intestate shall each take one share.

      Rule 3.-The heirs in the branch of each pre-deceased son or each pre-deceased daughter of the intestate shall take between them one share.

      Rule 4.-The distribution of the share referred to in Rule 3-

      (i) among the heirs in the branch of the pre-decease son shall be so made that his widow (or widows together), and the surviving sons and daughters get equal portions ; and the branch of his pre-deceased sons gets the same portion;

      (ii) among the heirs in the branch of the pre-deceased daughter shall be so made that the surviving sons and daughters get equal portions.

      Suppose A, a Hindu, dying intestate at the time of his death is survived by two windows and a son. A was the owner of one house. Now as per the rule, heirs in Class I shall take the property simultaneously and to the exclusion of all others. And in the above case all are Class I heirs. But two of them are widows of A. Therefore, as per the provisions of Rule 1 of section 10, both the widows of A shall take one-half share in the house of A and the other half shall go to A’s son. Hence the property of A by virtue of the above rule would be divided in only two parts and not three as all the widows together are entitled to only one part by virtue of Rule 1 of section 10. However, among themselves, both the widows shall inherit equally and one-half of the portion of A’s house that they are entitled to shall be divided equally among them. Therefore share of A’s son in A’s house upon A’s death shall be one-half while the share of each widow of A shall be one-fourth.

      a Hindu male dies intestate and is survived by his mother, two widows, two sons and two daughters. Now reading both Rule 1 and Rule 2 together, it becomes clear that the property of A shall be divided in 6 parts. Each daughter shall inherit one part. So shall each son. There being two sons and two daughters surviving A, each shall inherit one part. Hence, four parts of the property shall be distributed among A‘s four sons and daughters. Of the remaining two parts, A’s mother alone shall be entitled to one part and by virtue of Rule 1, both the widows of A shall be together entitled to one part.

  9. Vaibhav Verma says:

    Hi,

    Last year my father suddenly died on Diwali in Pune, Maharashtra. Death certificate was issued from Pune but my father’s permanent resident is shahjahanpur(UP). Now my family is trying to issue succession certificate from local lekhpal. But he is refusing to issue the certificate & saying death certificate should be issued from UP state not other state.

    Kindly suggest. Confirmation answer highly appreciated.

    Regards.

    • Kirti says:

      Sad to hear about your father Vaibhav. These officials make it so difficult at such times.

      Birth/Death can be registered at the place of occurrence only.
      All births/deaths that have occurred either in a home or a hospital otherwise shall be reported within 21 days of their occurrence to the concerned Registrar/Sub Registrar in whose jurisdiction the event has occurred. Ref

  10. Ravindra Khanna says:

    My friends mom passed away. She has left a will signed by herself, both daughters. She has only 1 property in her name. The possession of the flat is not done yet by the builder as under construction.

    MOM is Ist owner and daughter joint owner. What is the way forward, what has to be done? Builder is asking for succession certificate or WILL, not sure if with probate or Deed of administration is fine, please guide

  11. SLN says:

    Hi

    My mother passed away leaving a registered will for her property in my favour and my father was one of the witnesses. While my brother who is abroad without ties to the family was exparte to the order and the will has been probated. My question is can my brother or his heirs contest the will at a later date after the probate/ letter of adminstration has been granted in my favour.

    thanks

    • Kirti says:

      Probate is a legal process in which the court certifies the authenticity of the will. How long has it been since the will was probated?
      But in a court anything can be challenged.
      As there was no objection during the probate proceedings,I do not see such an endeavor now will succeed.But you cannot prevent the said person from filing a suit for claiming the share. You can defend the suit in the court ones it is filed. I feel you have a winning case at hand but you can check with a lawyer .

  12. BALAJI says:

    There is a plot for which the will is not made. There are seven siblings. One of them is not ready to sign for succession certificate. The other six are ready to make seven shares. Can we still go ahead to make the succession.

    • Kirti says:

      A succession certificate establishes who the legal heirs of the deceased are and gives them the authority to inherit debts, securities and any other assets. The beneficiaries can file a petition for a succession certificate in a district or high court as the two have concurrent jurisdiction. The petition usually mentions the relation of the petitioner with the deceased, details of other surviving legal heirs, the time, date and place of death of the deceased and the fact that the deceased died intestate. The court, after examining the petition, issues a notice to all the respondents. It also issues 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 then it passes an order to issue a succession certificate to the petitioner. “If there are more than one petitioners, then the court may jointly grant them a certificate, but it will not grant more than one certificate for a single asset,

    • MOHD GHYASUDDIN says:

      Please reply to the question that if any one dependent disputes did not agree with the terms of succession what would be the consequences.

  13. Harish says:

    I have a question. My mother died last year. She had made a will and had the will registered in a Sub-Registrar’s office. She has appointed one of the children as the trustee to divide the estate per her will. She has some stocks which have been dematted and are in a demat account with a depository in Karnataka. The demat depository want transfer the stocks until we produce a succession certificate. Since all of us siblings are all scattered and stay at various places what is your recommendation/suggestion as to how we should proceed? Thanking you in anticipation.

    Harish

    • admin says:

      Thanks Harish for asking the question. If you could provide details like : Did she nominate in her Demat Account?
      If the amount in demat significant(less or more than a lakh) and with whom she has a demat account we would be able to provide better answer. I suggest please go through the Frequently asked question on Demat at Sebi website.
      Please keep us updated on steps so that other readers can benefit.

  14. ravinder pal singh says:

    Well my lawyer in uttar pradesh say that their is no celling of rs.75000 in uttar pradesh. For example you have a estate worth 30 lakhs then you have to pay court fees by 8.75% of 30 lakhs (i.e :- some 2.5 lakhs rupees ).
    Can you please confirm this or do I need to consult another lawyer if I am wrong.

    • admin says:

      We do not have legal background so would recommend you to go with what lawyer said or get the second opinion. 2.5 lakh seems a BIG amount.
      On lawyersindia forum we found following info:
      condition (h) dictates when such amount or value exceeds 5 lakhs rupees,on five lakhs rupees the fee payable under (g) And on the remainder eight and three-fourth percentum.
      In (g) it is eight and one forth percentum.
      Hence 29 -5=24
      on 5l at 8.25%,and
      on remainder 24l at 8.75%

      Googling showed that this question has been asked at yahoo</a , ibibo and lawyersclubindia etc. Sadly we will not be able to provide more information.
      But do let us know if you find something more about it.

      • ravinder pal singh says:

        Yes, confirmed it.
        Its as you say
        condition (h) dictates when such amount or value exceeds 5 lakhs rupees,on five lakhs rupees the fee payable under (g) And on the remainder eight and three-fourth percentum.
        In (g) it is eight and one forth percentum.
        Hence 29 -5=24
        on 5l at 8.25%,and
        on remainder 24l at 8.75%
        But the question is why only in uttar pradesh. So far I have checked many different states like Delhi, Mumbai, Punjab, Haryana all have court similar court fees of 3% and a maximum ceiling of Rs 75000

  15. [...] this money – you would need paperwork and this brings me back to Bemoneyaware’s post on succession certificates and wills that I shared some time [...]

  16. [...] Succession Certificate, Letter of Administration, Probate of Will are legal documents that may be required.  My post covers these in detail  Succession Certificate, Letter of Administration, Probate of Will  [...]

  17. Hi Kirti,
    You are doing awesome work on your blog – keep rocking.

  18. [...] Bemoneyaware has a great article on the documents that are needed as part of a will.  [...]

  19. Saru (@SaruSinghal) says:

    Quite informative, Thanks for sharing. Revised few of the concepts I forgot…

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