Need for a Will (estate planning)
A large number of people die “intestate”, i.e without a Will. When that happens “others” decide fore us how our estate will be distributed. Many families end up fighting legal battle to get what they assume is their rightful share in the property left behind by the deceased.
It is noted often that people assume that writing a will is very difficult, expensive and is required by only those few who have large amount of assets and families. The truth is entirely different. You can write a will on a simple piece of paper and need not even register it. Secondly even if you have small family or not too many assets, if you die intestate, and their is no clear nomination or even if there is any small rift in the family on who shall get what share in your property, your loved ones will end up making another difficult time , besides loosing you , to claim such properties from the court. And then their is a cost to it. In the absence of Will your heirs need to apply for the succession certificate from the court and pay up to 3% of the value of the assets.
Writing a will ensures that those who may need your money after you have gone, and who have the right of inheritance to it, will have access to it as soon as possible, thereby avoiding possible hardship. By writing a will, you are also tidying up your affairs and showing clear consideration and love for those you leave behind.
Some of the key points to note before you draft a Will are:
1.. You can write a Will on the plain paper in legible writing. Though not mandatory, it is advisable to use stamp paper and get the Will registered so as to put the stamp of authenticity.
2.. A will cannot override the natural succession of ancestral wealth. In case of inherited property one can pass on only his share to anybody he wants, but the remaining property can be Willed only to the legal heirs. For example, a Hindu individual inherits 1 million from his father and if he has three legal heirs, then he has only a 25% share in that amount. Rest belongs to the three heirs.
3.. If you want to bequeath assets to people other than the natural legal heirs, it is suggested to mention reasons for doing so. This will ensure no legal problems by the legal heirs on the intentions and ingenuity of such wish.
4.. Who shall be your Executors? Executors are responsible for exercising your estate in accordance with your instructions after you have died.
5.. Who shall be your Trustees? Trustees will be responsible for managing and investing money, or looking after property until it passes to the beneficiaries. Make sure the trustee is still young enough so they don’t die before you do.
6.. Do you have children under 18? If so then you need to appoint a guardians who shall take care of the property until your children reach age 18. You can specify the roles and limitation of accessing the assets by the guardians.
7.. Who shall be your beneficiaries and the assets they inherit from you. It is advisable to list down the detail of all the assets and who shall inherit the same. You may also mention who shall get the assets you shall acquire after writing the will and during your lifetime.
8.. You may also specify the way your last rites are executed.
9.. Make sure it is signed and is witnessed by at least two witnesses. It is advisable that you must choose these witnesses carefully as in case of any question on the authenticity of your Will, the witnesses are available to testify in the court of law.
10.. It is also advisable to make an audio visual of this Will to add more authenticity.
11.. Store your Will in a safe place. Inform the executors you have mentioned in your will on the place where the will is kept.