Before I start, one of the interesting fact we should know that in 2015-16, nearly 66% of the Civil Cases being fought in 170 district courts across the country were over land and property matters, with as many as 52.7% cases being fought only among families. It’s surprised me a lot and then this forced me to write about this topic. Now I think we can understand the importance of Will. If two of your family members filed a court case against each other and fighting, arguing and blaming each other; how it looks. It is so embracing. So before your family member reaches at this stage, it is good to write your own Will.
What is Will?
A Will is made by a person when he desires to distribute his wealth to his near and dear ones after his death. A Will is a legal declaration and there is no set format or any prescribed form. It means you can write or type your own Will on a simple paper; no need to write on Stamp Paper. A Will may be revoked or altered by the owner at any time prior to his/her death.
Since you cannot take your property and money with you when you die, having a valid Will is one of the best ways you can give back to those you love. According to the Indian Succession Act of 1925, anyone who is of sound mind and who is not a minor can make a Will.
Types of Will
According to the India Succession Act of 1925, there are two types of Will; Privileged and Unprivileged Will.
- Privileged Will are those Will which are made by our soldiers (Army, Navy & Air Force) who are employed in an expedition or a war-like situation. These types of Will do not have many legal formalities and this type of Will could be in writing or orally.
- Unprivileged Will are all other kinds of Wills and in the execution of these Wills, a lot of formalities need to be carried out from verification of signatures till attestation of witnesses.
How to write a Will and essential elements when making a Will
Though there is no legal or defined format to make Will, it’s good practice to follow a certain pattern so that everything necessary by law is included. Here you can understand how to write a Will and essential elements when making a Will. Your Will should have these basic things:
- Declaration: – You need to start to declare that you are making your own Will in your full senses and free from any kind of pressure. You have to mention your complete name, permanent address, age, etc. so that it confirms that you really are, in your senses. You have to state also that you would like to be the executor of your own Will.
- List of your Assets: – The next step is to list out all of your assets, property with their current values like house, land, cash in your savings account, your FDs, shares, mutual funds, etc. Compiling this list can be time-consuming and tedious. It’s best to go over it a few times to make sure you haven’t left anything out. You must also indicate that where all important documents are stored by you. If the documents are kept in your bank locker, make sure, you take the details from the bank manager about the procedure and rules of releasing your documents from the safe deposit after your death. It is also advisable to communicate it to the executor of the Will or your family members.
- Ownership details of Your Assets: – Once you prepare a list of your assets, now it is very easy for you to list out the name of that person who should own that asset. List out very clearly and very precisely. If you wish to give your assets to a minor, make sure you appoint a custodian (someone you trust) of that assets till the individual reaches an adult age.
- Sign the Will with witnesses: – Once you completed, read completely and sign the Will very carefully in presence of at least two independent witnesses. Your witnesses will then have to sign to certify that the will was signed in their presence. You should mention the date & place and specify the full names and addresses of your witnesses.
Make sure you and the witnesses sign all the pages of the Will. One important point while choosing witnesses is that they should be trustworthy. They could be your friends, neighbors, or your colleagues and not the direct beneficiaries in the Will. Your witnesses don’t need to read your Will. They just need to attest to the fact that you’ve signed it in their presence. Make sure that every page of the Will needs to be signed by you and your witnesses. Any correction made on the will must also be countersigned by you and the witnesses.
You can keep your own Will in an envelope which has to be sealed after completing all the formalities and the seal must bear your signature and the date of sealing. The witnesses need not sign on the seal of the envelope.
Is it mandatory or necessary to register a Will in India?
No, registration of Will is not mandatory under the Indian Succession Act, 1925 as it is considered to be a personal choice of the testator. However, it’s advisable to register it. Once a Will is registered, it is placed in the safe custody of the Registrar and therefore cannot be tampered with, destroyed, mutilated or stolen. A Will is to be registered with the registrar/sub-registrar with a nominal registration fee. The testator must be personally present at the registrar’s office along with witnesses.
Revocation and Amendment: – A Will can be revoked, changed or altered by the testator at any time when he is competent to dispose of his property. A person can revoke, change or alter his Will by executing a new Will, revoking the earlier Will, registering the new Will (if the old Will is registered), destroying the old Will or by making a codicil.