Indian History has witnessed innumerable incidents and stories of fights between legal heirs, brothers and relatives on distribution of property and wealth. This only gave birth to the concept of ‘Will’ as it will not let your loved one’s quarrel with each other for their shares in the property after your death.
India is a secular country and allows the right to follow religion. Each religion is regulated by their respective laws and provisions. These different laws have different provisions for inheritance. Let’s clarify all the questions about ‘Will’ and give our nagging tingle a rest:-
What’s a Will?
To start with, let’s understand the meaning of ‘Will’ from the legal context. Will is a legitimate declaration of a person’s intention on distributing his/her self-acquired property amongst his/her legal heirs and is to be performed only after his/her death. How many of us would like to distribute/divide their precious wealth- on the basis of succession laws and not as per your preferences, when your family structure is diverse? It’s time to give it a serious thought.
How to write a Will?
The rightful age of writing a Will is above 21 years. As well aware, in India, people find the concern of ‘Making a will’ quite melancholic and is generally avoided. Even the mention of this word raises eyebrows or accelerates the heart-beat. People don’t take it in right attitude and don’t feel comfortable discussing it aloud. While a registered Will is more legally binding, in order to write a Will, you don’t necessarily require a stamp paper or a lawyer. A plain paper is sufficed to write a will provided it is in your own hand-writing. But there are certain important things to note while writing the will:-
- Signature/thumb impression by the testator i.e. will maker;
- Sound mind and free from any undue influence;
- Witnessed and signature certified by 2 witnesses.
Why do you need a Will?
The Indian legal framework is quite complex. In the absence of Will, the property distribution among heirs is regulated by the inheritance Laws of the respective Religion Acts. Let’s not forget the long-drawn processes, unforeseen events or regulatory hurdles which delay the sale/transfer of money, assets & property. This is the primary reason behind the requirement of a Will.
Why you should get a will made?
A will ensures the financial security of your spouse, minor children or sons and daughters after your death. It allows you to enact your preferences on wealth distribution after your death if in case you want to give more to your daughter who is in need of support more than other legal heir. Last but not the least, it definitely avoid family clashes and smoothens the transfer of wealth.
Life is too short to delay such vital decisions especially when your family is diverse and you are the bread-earner in the family. The absence of will can really cause inconvenience in terms of unnecessary money to lawyers, spending energy on proving relationship in the inheritance courts or getting succession certificate for the properties.
Moreover, it is important to make a valid will with all the requisite components, which sometimes are missed when the will is made without any lawyer’s supervision.
Will laws differ with religions- take a sneak-peak
In India, there are separate religious Acts and Laws that govern the Will Laws. It includes Indian Succession Act, 1925, Hindu Law, Muslim Law and Indian Registration Act, 1908.
Under Hindu Succession Act, if there is no will, all the assets and liabilities of the deceased person are distributed among his/her legal heirs on the basis of their closeness with the deceased. It is applicable on Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs etc. except Muslims, Christian, Parsi & Jew. Closed Heirs which belong to Class I category include Spouse, sons, daughters, widow and mother. If there are no closed heirs, then it will be distributed to next line.
Under Muslim Acts, here Will is better known as Wasiyat, where the Muslim is morally responsible to make the division of his/her estate/property. He/She can only bestow his/her 1/3rd share of his/her total property in a will which will be validly executed after his/her death. Not only that, he/she may accept this 1/3rd share to 1/4th share only after getting the consent from all the heirs or if only heir is husband or wife. Under this inheritance law, a son is considered a preferred legal heir and gets doubles the share of daughter.
Inheritance in Christians in India is governed by Indian Succession Act, 1925, which defines total and partial intestacy if the deceased does not bestow his/her beneficial interest in any of his/her property by way of making will.
Why wills are not limited for old age?
Interestingly, there is no specific correct age to write a will. The general presumption amongst people is that will is to be made when you are reaching the ‘retirement phase’ of your life. It may sound correct as old age brings life closer to the end of your journey. But, it would be prudent to make a will early in life just like the fact that it is wise to take an early insurance policy. It is because you are of sound mind and can wisely allocate wealth or property to people as per your desire and their purposes. If you are not minor and can decide to deal with your self-acquired wealth, then do make a will.
In the end, one thing that is very clear is that one should not delay in making a will. Take a piece of paper and jot down your last wishes with regard to the disposal of assets and responsibilities amongst his/her legal heir(s). If you really want your loved ones to stay financially secure and don’t indulge in property disputes, then make sure to make your succession plan at the earliest. We, at MyAdvo.in can help you connect with the right lawyer for drafting your succession plan or will.