Your Money – Will: Asset planning for when you are gone

Succession becomes a complex exercise in absence of a Will. So, plan ahead and draft a Will

succession planning
It is not mandatory to register a Will but there may be cases where it is essential.

Succession planning is an important part of financial planning. It allows you to provision for matters such as the future security of your loved ones, decide who should be able to gain access to their inheritance and in what manner, and so on. A Will is one of the most crucial components of an efficient succession plan. It is a legal document that spells out how someone’s properties, both movable and immovable, will be distributed among beneficiaries after their death. In absence of such a legal declaration, the chances of disputes leading to expensive legal battles and an eventual rift among family members is much higher.

Drafting a Will is not mandatory in India but it clearly outlines your wishes regarding your assets. A property can be legally distributed in two ways—Intestate (when no Will is made) and in accordance with the Will of the owner of the assets. When a person dies without drafting a Will, his property is distributed as per the respective laws of succession.

Drafting a Will

Anyone can make a Will detailing how they wish to bequeath their assets. It can be hand-written or typed. However, it should have as much personal details as possible to avoid ambiguities, misinterpretations, and conflicts. An ideal Will should contain the list of all your assets, including movable and immovable properties, investments, and cash, among other assets, and details of how they are to be passed on.

You can also hire a lawyer or seek online help for the same. This may turn out to be essential if you have a lot of inherited property or a complex line of inheritance. In such a case, you may want to take legal help to get clarity on what can and cannot be included in your Will to reduce the chances of a dispute later. You can also prepare a video recording of your Will to reduce the risks of dispute.

Witnesses

The Will has to be signed on every page in presence of at least two independent witnesses, who have to countersign certifying that the Will has been signed in their presence. The date and place also must be indicated clearly at the bottom of the Will. Note that beneficiaries to a Will cannot be witnesses.

Revocation and amendment

You can revoke or amend your Will any number of times during your lifetime. Only the last drawn Will is held legally valid. Any changes to the Will have to be either in the form of either a new Will or a codicil. Any correction or overwriting on the Will itself makes it invalid.

Executor

You will also have to appoint an executor to the Will, who will make sure all the provisions are met as stated in the Will. This is very essential in case of real estate bequeaths, as such Wills will need to undergo a probate. The executor can be a beneficiary of the Will or a trusted third-party.

Registration

It is not mandatory to register a Will but there may be cases where it is essential. For example, several states require a probate for the Will for matters of property. The Will can be registered at the sub-registrar office. The registered Will can be presented in the court for probate. No probate is required for Muslims and Christians.

A Will works like a safety net for your children and beneficiaries who count on you for financial stability. Succession becomes a complex exercise in absence of a Will, and it can affect your loved ones. So, plan ahead and don’t leave drafting your Will for the last minute.

The write is CEO, Bankbazaar.com

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