10 Points to consider while writing a Will
"I am too young to prepare a will" or "I don't need to prepare a will", while many people reading this article will be able to relate with these thoughts, it is important for you to know that dying intestate (without preparing a will) can lead to various complications and disagreements among your heirs. You work your entire life to build wealth and a sustainable livelihood for your family members. But you can't even imagine the mess and inconvenience that might be caused to your loved ones because of your laziness in not drafting a will for them.
The transfer of assets from one generation to another also known as estate planning is a must for every individual irrespective of the size of his or her wealth. Moreover, it is wise to make provisions to leave behind assets, from the very first day you acquire one. You don't need to wait till you own lots of assets to transfer or till you turn 65 to create a will. You see, life is unpredictable and uncertain. It is always better to prepare a will and keep even though you are in the pink of health as uncertainty may occur anytime. Moreover, estate planning prevents the addition of financial and legal grief to the emotional grief your loved ones may already be facing upon your absence.
Hence for your convenience PersonalFN has listed down 10 certain points which could prove helpful to you while preparing a will.
All of us have certain wishes about what should be done with our fortune (however big or small) after us. But unless and until you appropriately document this in the form of a will, there is no certainty that the assets created by your life long efforts will be transferred to your beloved people. The law does not know that you wished to leave a larger portion of your wealth to your financially weaker child or you wanted to leave a token of appreciation to some special friends. There is no guarantee whether your special artifacts will be passed on to those family members who you knew would value them or even sell off.
- A will can be prepared by anyone who is 21 years of age, of sound mind, and free from any coercion, fraud and undue influence. With old-age comes several physical and mental illnesses. People become incapacitated or even lose their ability to comprehend. A will created at such an age, when a person might not be in his or her right senses might create misunderstandings, doubts and disputes in the family later. Hence it is advisable to prepare your will at a relatively young age when you are fit, in order to avoid conflicts later.
- You must use the title 'Last Will And Testament Of (state your name here)' to make it clear that the document is your Will and legal. Moreover state your full name, current address, and the fact that you are of sound mental health and under no duress from any one to make the will.
- Name an executor, a person who will carry on the tenets of the will. A trust worthy person should be named as an executor and you must seek their permission before nominating them. This is because if they refuse to become an executor later, then there might be no one to execute the will, leaving it to the court of law to appoint an executor.
- A will can be hand written or typed out. No stamp paper is necessary. You can write a Will on a simple A4 size paper, sign and date it with 2 witnesses and keep it in a secure location. It is not compulsory for one to register a Will with the Registering Authority; but in order to avoid frauds and tampering, it is always preferable to get it registered. If you wish to register your Will then it can be done with the registrar/sub-registrar by paying a nominal registration fee. This also requires you to be personally present at the registrar's office along with the witnesses. Also, it is better if the witnesses signing your will are not the immediate beneficiaries of your estate or wealth. They could be 2 people who are trustworthy and reliable. Also, it would be wise to inform the executor and family members about the whereabouts of your will in order to avoid confusion later.
- If you have bequeathed your assets to any minor children, make sure you appoint a guardian for the assets till the time the said minors reach an adult age.
- It is extremely important for a will to be simple, precise and clear. Otherwise some people might misconstrue your intentions and your assets might not be transferred to your choice of beneficiaries.
- It is possible to make changes or minor alterations in a will if you wish to do so. However in case there are too many or major changes, it will be better to make an entirely new will. Moreover, you must always date your will. If more than one Will is made then the one having the latest date will nullify all other Wills.
- Each page of the Will should be serially numbered and signed by the Testator (that is the person making the will) and the Witnesses. This is to prevent the Will being substituted, replaced, or pages being inserted by people intending to commit fraud. At the end of the Will you (the Testator) should indicate the total number of pages in the Will. Corrections if any should be countersigned.
- While writing a will along with the laws of the country, one's religion also plays an important role. Hence you must keep that in mind while making your will. For example, in case of Hindus, any assets that you have acquired on your own can be bequeathed as per your wishes. However any property which you have inherited from your father cannot be transferred according to your whims and fancies, as the laws of inheritance will apply on them.
- Although it is possible to draft a will on your own, it is always better to take the advice of a trusted lawyer or advocate while writing a will. This will reduce any chances of misinterpretation or frauds from relatives and also reduces the probability of the will being claimed as invalid in the court of law.
PersonalFN believes for all these reasons and in order to avoid being the reason of agony for your loved ones, you must start planning for your estate. Estate planning is one of the most essential aspects of our lives and should not be put off until it's too late. It is a dynamic process, which needs to be reviewed at regular intervals of time to absorb any changes, which might happen in our lives or in the laws of our country.
PersonalFN is a Mumbai based personal finance firm offering Financial Planning and Mutual Fund Research services.
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