WHILE most individuals save and look for the right investment products to create long-term wealth, it is equally important to write a will to bequeath the legacy to the loved ones. A will, that lists all moveable and immoveable assets, will ensure that your assets will be handed over to the identified beneficiary. A will comes into operation only after the death of the testator.
When to write a will
First and foremost, an individual has to be of sound mind to make a will. The document has to be signed and two people have to witness it. It can be revoked by the testator any time during his lifetime as long as he is competent enough to make such a change. In case of execution of any subsequent will, the previous version will be cancelled. A will can be handwritten or typed out and no stamp paper is necessary. One should consult a trusted lawyer before preparing a will. It is not mandatory to register a will but in case any property or asset is to be given to a charitable organisation, then registration should be done.
Types of will
A will, which is written by an individual other than a defence personnel, is called an unprivileged will. All unprivileged wills have to be signed by the person who is making the will in the presence of at least two witnesses. In case of a conditional will, one can put down certain conditions and it will become valid if all the conditions outlined are fulfilled. A joint will is written by more than one person and the surviving testator can revoke the will even after the death of the other.
The order of preference to distribute property to legatees are spouse, children, brothers or sisters and other relatives. If there is any addition to the family or a key legatee is added after the will is made, then one must change the will.
Making it operative
On death of the testator, a probate has to be issued from a court of competent jurisdiction (if the property is in Chennai, Mumbai or Kolkata) to make the will operative.
When a person dies without a will, he is said to die intestate. In such cases, based on the religion of the intestate person, the estate will be distributed. Also, if a will is not signed, the legal heirs of the assets will be decided as per the succession laws of the country and the legal heirs will have to give affidavits stating that the nominee mentioned in the financial products will get all the proceeds of the deceased.
Nomination not enough
Diligently filling up the nomination form in insurance policies, share certificates, mutual funds, bank deposits and other financial products does not necessarily mean that the nominee will get the money easily on death of the owner. A nominee is merely a trustee who is only the caretaker of the money or financial asset. For the nominee to get the money easily, the owner of the asset has to write a will and only then the nominee will become the legal heir.