Writing a Will: Indian Myths And Facts
Remember those age-old movies where, after the father dies, estranged sons begin appearing on the scene to stake a claim on the father’s property and assets? The poor mother- elated by her sons’ return after her husband’s demise, but devastated by their selfishness - doesn’t know what to do. Physical and legal battles ensue to see who comes out as the winner.
How easier things would’ve been for the mother and the sons had the father taken out time to write a Will.
It is no fault of his, though. There is little awareness when it comes to Will writing in India. So much of it is wrapped in assumptions and the unwillingness to prepare for one’s own death.
However, Will writing is critical for all adults irrespective of their age, marital status, or wealth. In this article, we are aiming to get rid of all the myths and the fear so that you can finally sit down (or encourage your parents to do so) and write your own Will.
What is a Will and why write it?
A Will is a legal document that expresses your wishes w.r.t the distribution of your property, assets, and the care of any minor children. Without a Will, things would not likely pan out as you wished they had after your death. Your heirs will also have to spend extra time, energy, and money to claim what could easily have been theirs and to settle your affairs.
As to why you need a Will, here are a few reasons:
- Free Will writing gives you the opportunity to distribute your movable and immovable property over which you have complete ownership to your beneficiaries as per your wish.
- If you have minor children, you can appoint an appropriate guardian for them in case both you and your spouse die.
- If you do not write a Will, then your wealth will be distributed as per the Hindu Succession Law. There are separate laws for Muslims and Christians.
- Money is powerful and if you don’t take the time to engage in free Will writing, you might bring strife in the family after your death. The rightful heirs might have to spend lots of money, time, and energy to prove their relation to you and hire lawyers. To top it off, unknown and minor entities might appear on the scene out of nowhere, claiming they have a share in the property as well. Such objections can be easily dismissed if there is a well-made Will.
If you take the time to write a Will, your wealth will be divided among the people you want without any questions whatsoever.
Will writing - the right way
The testator- the person writing the Will- must do so of his/ her free will, be of sound mind, and above 18 years of age on the date of making the Will. If a person is old, it is advisable to add a doctor’s certificate, certifying the person’s mental health and sanity.
It is highly recommended that you write a ‘testamentary Will’ i.e. a Will written in the presence of witnesses. This will prevent the arising of challenges to your wishes by any family member or business partner after your death. Have 2 or more witnesses- preferably a lawyer and doctor. Do not make the beneficiaries of your Will the witnesses as well. One of the witnesses can be appointed as the executor of the Will.
Review the Will after every few years and keep updating it. The procedure remains the same. Make sure to mention that the latest Will supersedes all other Wills.
Myths and facts related to free Will writing
Myth #1: Writing a Will is a costly and tedious task
Looks like you haven’t checked out the Aviva Will Writing Service where you can create your Will in the following 3 steps:
- List your personal and asset details
- Allocate your beneficiary
- Preview and generate your Will
To top it off, the Aviva Will format has been drafted by legal experts and helps you to write your Will in a systematic manner.
And the total time it takes? 15 minutes. No reason to put it off now.
If you are the pen-paper type, you can also take the Aviva Will Writing format offline (We save no information in our systems), and do it on any plain sheet of paper. Stamp paper is not required unless you are going to register your Will. You can write it in any language.
Myth #2: It is necessary to register your Will
The registration or notary of the Will is not compulsory.
You can keep it any place- home, locker, with a friend, relative, lawyer, or the executor of your Will.
Myth #3: Nominations and joint holdings are as good as a Will
The Will prevails over a nomination. Moreover, a nominee is not a legal heir. He/ she is the person whose responsibility it is to act as a trustee and custodian of your wealth. He/ she can only collect the wealth on behalf of legal heirs.
Also, joint holding means each joint holder is the owner of his/ her share. Each of them has to write a Will regarding the share the s/he owns.
Myth #4: The property will be passed on to spouse and children without dispute
Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists are governed by the Hindu Succession Act. Legal heirs are broken into 2 classes- Class I and Class II legal heirs. Son/ daughter, widow, mother are included in Class I and hence, they would have the first right on your assets (in case of a deceased male heir).
However, the amount that they receive might not be what you wanted them to have.
For example, you might have wanted your minor daughter to have 1 crore for her educational requirements. In the absence of a Will and the presence of 5 legal heirs, the court may divide the amount equally among all 5 as per the Hindu Succession Act. This leaves the daughter with only 20 lakhs.
Myth #5: The best time to make a Will is in old age
Who knows for certain that you will live to be old? What if you die of a heart attack as soon as you hit 50? There are no guarantees and no certainties. Star crafting your Will and updating it after every 3-5 years once you reach your 30’s or 40’s and begin accumulating wealth.
Myth #6: Thinking about one’s death is so morbid
What’s more horrifying to think are the troubles and pains your family will have to go through as they seek to deal with your death and claim what’s rightfully theirs. With forethought, compassion, and love, one can ease some of their burdens and prepare a Will well in advance.
Now that your free Will writing basics are clear, it’s time to write your very own! Aviva Will Writing Service makes it 100% safe and a 1000% easy to do this.