What Is a Will? – an Overview
A will is a legal document that plays a key role in the distribution of one’s assets in the event of their death. The person making a will is known as the testator. It is necessary to keep a will in place to prevent the property from being distributed through the process laid down by law. When one dies without making a will, the property is distributed through ‘intestate’ succession. The process of intestate succession varies from religion and personal law.
Thus, it is always advised to prepare a will in advance to ensure that the property is divided as per the wants and wishes of the deceased. Ideally, the will suggests the property being divided to the close relatives or friends of the deceased. Keeping a will in advance is a healthy practice, this is often overlooked as many people do not have a will or have outdated information in it. In India, it is not necessary to register a will but it is always advantageous to register it with the Sub-Registrar.
Benefits of a Will
- Organises the assets and tells how they have to be handled after death.
- Lifts the burden of handling properties and assets of family members.
- Will allows you to distribute the assets according to the wants and wishes of the deceased. Intestate succession can lead to unfavourable distribution.
- Prevents petty litigation and disputes among family members if a document clarifies the procedure of distribution.
- A will can become a medium of giving financial security to loved ones.
- A will can act as proof/evidence of ownership of property and prove useful in a property dispute.
Essential Components of a Will
- Personal Details: This includes the name, fathers name, date of birth, and personal address of the deceased
- Details of assets: This is an account of the assets that need to be divided. This includes movable and immovable property owned by the deceased
- Details of beneficiaries: This includes the name of the people who will be getting the assets. The will must clarify each asset with the name and personal details of the beneficiary
- Signature: It has to be signed by the deceased
- Signature of witness: A will at the time of registration must be done in the presence of a minimum of two witnesses. The signature of those witnesses is also compulsorily added
- Executors Details: The executor is the person who will be implementing the will after the death. The name, address, and other personal details of the executor have to be included as well.
Procedure of Registering a Will
- As mentioned in the Registrations Act, registration of a will format is carried out at the Office of the Sub-Registrar of the State Government
- Specified stamp duty is levied on every registration
- After the will format is drafted, the testator, accompanied by the witness(es) visits the Registrar to carry out the official formalities
- After execution, the registered will is kept in the safe custody of a lawyer or a banker. The registrars also have the authority to hold deposited wills
- The testator or any individual authorised by him can deposit a sealed will to the registrar.