How to obtain a legal heir certificate in India?


If an individual dies intestate, i.e., without a will, then his/her legal heirs are required to get a legal heir certificate from the authorities to prove that they are indeed the legal heirs of the deceased person. A legal heirship certificate is issued to identify the living heirs of a deceased person. Before applying for this certificate, one needs to obtain the death certificate of the deceased person.

Know the difference between Nominee vs Legal Heir for clear understanding.

A legal heirship certificate establishes the relationship of the heirs to the deceased for claims relating to pension, provident fund, gratuity, or other service benefits of central and state government departments, specifically when the deceased had not selected a nominee. Nominees are essentially required by banks and private companies for the transfer of deposits, balances, investments, shares, etc. However, how to obtain a legal heir certificate is still a question in many heads.

How to Apply for a Legal Heir Certificate from Tahsildar?

A legal heir certificate can be obtained by approaching the area/taluk Tahsildar or from the corporation/municipality office of the respective area and the district civil court. While the Indian Succession Act of 1925 does not prescribe a method for obtaining a legal heirship certificate, it can be easily issued by revenue officers, such as tahsildars, revenue Mandal officers, or Talukdars, in every taluk.

Documents required to apply for legal heir certificate/surviving member certificate

  • Copy of ID proof such as PAN etc. and address proof such as Aadhaar etc. of all the legal heirs.
  • Application form duly filled and signed.
  • Original death certificate of the deceased person issued by the local body.
  • Copy of ID proof and address proof of the deceased person.
  • In the case of a legal heir certificate, an individual is required to submit an affidavit of undertaking by the applicant and all the surviving family members.
  • Two witness id copies with address (immediate neighbor only).

Note - A stamp of ₹2 and Rs 20 stamp paper for affidavit must be affixed to the application form by the applicant.

Application Form link for Legal heir certificate

Legal Heirship Certificate vis-à-vis Succession Certificate

A legal heirship certificate is issued to identify the living heirs of a deceased person whereas a succession certificate is issued to establish the authenticity of the heirs and give them the authority to inherit debts, securities, and other assets that the deceased may have left behind.

As per the Bombay Regulation VIII Of 1827

The heirs of persons deceased should, unless their right is disputed, be allowed to assume the management, or sue for the recovery of property belonging to the estate, without the interference of Courts, in order to give confidence to persons in possession of, or indebted to, the estate to acknowledge and deal with them, should obtain a certificate of heirship.

If an heir is desirous of having his right formally recognized by the Court, the Judge, on application, shall issue a proclamation, inviting all persons who dispute the right of the applicant to appear in the Court within one month from the date of the proclamation and enter their objections, and declaring that, if no sufficient objection is offered, the Judge will proceed to receive proof of the right of the applicant, and, if satisfied, grant him a certificate of heirship.

Succession Certificate

The procedure for obtaining a Succession Certificate (“Certificate”) is laid down in The Indian Succession Act, 1925 (“Act”). A succession certificate is a sanctioning document that sanctions the right to inherit debt and securities to the legal heirs of the deceased who died intestate.

This right to inherit is sanctioned when the beneficiaries apply to a civil court of competent jurisdiction. In other words, a succession certificate gives legal recognition to the right of legal heirs to inherit the estate of the deceased.

The Certificate cannot be granted pertaining to any debt or security to which the rights are required to be established by Probate or Letter of Administration. A Certificate granted shall be held invalid if there has been a previous grant of such a certificate or of probate or letters of administration in respect of the estate of the deceased person and if a such previous grant is in force.

Court has jurisdiction to grant the Certificate.

The District Judge within whose jurisdiction the deceased ordinarily resides at the time of his death may grant the Certificate. If at that time he had no fixed place of residence, the District Judge, within whose jurisdiction any part of the property of the deceased may be found, may grant a Certificate.

Procedure to apply for the Certificate

Application for such a certificate shall be made to the District Judge by a petition signed and verified by the applicant in the manner prescribed by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for the signing and verification of a plant by a plaintiff.

It should contain the following particulars –

  • The time of the death of the deceased.

  • The ordinary residence of the deceased at the time of his death and, if such residence was not within the local limits of the jurisdiction of the Judge, then the detail regarding the property of the deceased within those limits.

  • The family or other near relatives of the deceased and their residences.

  • The right in which the petitioner claims.

  • The absence of any impediment under any other provision of this Act or any other enactment to the grant of the certificate.

  • The debts and securities in respect of which the certificate is applied.

  • If the judge is satisfied that there is a ground for entertaining the application, he shall fix a day for its hearing.

  • When the Judge decides the right of the applicant, he shall make an order for the grant of the certificate to him.

  • If the Judge cannot decide the right to the certificate without determining questions of law that are too intricate for determination in a summary proceeding, he may anyway grant a certificate to the applicant if he appears to be the person having prima facie the best title.

  • When there are more applicants than one for a certificate, and it appears to the Judge that more than one applicant is interested in the estate of the deceased, the Judge may have regard to the extent of interest and the fitness in other respects of the applicants.

  • When the Judge grants a certificate, he shall specify the debts and securities set forth in the application for the certificate and may empower the person to whom the certificate is granted 

To receive interest or dividends on, or

To negotiate or transfer, or 

Both to receive interest or dividends on, and to negotiate or transfer, the securities or any of them.


According to the Court Fees Act, of 1870, a specific percentage of the value of the estate is imposed by the court. This specific percentage varies from one state to the other throughout the country. Normally, it is around 2-3% of the value of the estate.

Revocation of certificate

  • A certificate granted under this Part may be revoked for any of the following causes:

  • Proceedings to obtain the certificate were defective in substance;

  • The Certificate was obtained fraudulently;

  • The Certificate was obtained by means of an untrue allegation of a fact essential in point of law, though the allegation was made in ignorance;

  • The Certificate has become useless and inoperative through circumstances; 

  • That an order made by the Court with respect to debts or securities specified in the certificate renders it proper that the certificate should be revoked.


How many days to get a legal heir certificate?

In most cases, acquiring a legal heir certificate takes 15 to 30 days. If the certificate is not received in a timely manner or the responsible authorities do not reply, one should contact the Revenue Division Officer (RDO)/sub-collector.

How many days does it take to get a legal heir certificate from the court? 

In the case of a succession certificate, a newspaper notice for 45 days is issued by the court. Any person having an objection to such an advertisement can file an opposition This process may take 5-7 months.