Resources say that the awareness of the importance of making a will in India is much lower than that in the western world. Only 36% of the total population in the USA makes a valid will whereas the UK is a little better with 47%. With the decreasing life span experts say that this is not enough. But, in India the percentage is even lower .This is alarming.
In our initiative towards creating awareness about the importance of making a will, we found that over 80% of the cases pending in various courts across India are related to property disputes , succession matters , inheritance and probate executions. These cases sometimes outgrow the age of the people fighting the cases. Such situations can be avoided if each one takes a responsible decision to systematically assign his/her properties. This can only be done through a valid will.
Why making of “Will” is important?
The importance of a Will cannot be stressed enough for Indians with lakhs of Civil Cases pending in various Courts of Law for ages. However, the importance of a Will was realized by many only after two very high profile wars among some of the richest families in the country- the Ambani’ s and the Birla’s. The first was the case with the absence of a Will. Whereas, the second was the case with the Will bequeathing over Rs. 5,000 crores to their consultant. There is a very renowned proverb is that “Where there is a Will there is a way”. A written Will, will take care of most of the problems related to passing on of wealth.
A Will is a wish list of the Testator who has wealth (Paintings, CD, Book, Diary, Shares, Good Will, Patents, Copyright, real estate, Antiques, Jeweler, pets or any other valuable movable or immovable things) to be split up among his family members, relatives, employees, charity, or anyone else after his passing away.
At any point of time, the owner of the wealth can have a change of mind and if he needs to make any changes in his Will, the said Testator can instantly change his Will in his life- time. The necessity of a Will has always been under emphasized in the Indian scenario.
The Concept of Will is not alien to us, but how many of us actually make the effort to write one? Most of us do not bother based on the assumption that it is required only for those who are rolling in wealth and are in their old age.
Succession planning can be done through Wills, Corporate entities and trusts. If any one dies without making a Will (called “intestate” in legal Parlance), his wealth is inherited by the heirs according to the inheritance laws. If a person dies without a Will, the law of succession applies based on the religion of the deceased. Since laws of marriage and succession are the most intricate among the religious laws, inheritance issues an India are very complicated. In case of more than one heir, distribution of assets can lead to family disputes. If you die intestate, the Court will decide as to whom your precious property shall be distributed and in what ratio. At that time, your heir has to follow the judgment of the said Court as it becomes functus officio (Once the Court has passed a valid sentence after a lawful hearing, it is functus officio and cannot be changed).
The main reason for making a Will is to say who should receive your property, who should raise your children if something fatal occurs to you etc.. If you do not own any property and also do not have children, you may still want to make a Last Will anticipating to have a property or children in the future. If you want your spouse to get all your properties after your death, you should still write a Will mentioning this. All the assets do not automatically get transferred to the deceased’s spouse.
The applicable succession laws (depending on one’s religion) usually provide for distribution of the assets among the heirs, which includes other relatives in addition to the spouse of the deceased. It is a misconception to believe that all the estate automatically passes on to the spouse. Children and relatives can also stake claim to the property. Law of Inheritance and succession are diverse and complicated. This kind of division of assets is an expensive business as your family would have to hire the services of a lawyer and all the costs will be incurred out of your estate. So in effect, your family will get a diminished share.
Whether it’s a son drawing a huge amount as salary or a daughter who is still pursuing her studies, both of them get a fixed portion of your wealth when the laws of succession come into play. A Will offers you the option to give more to your daughter if she needs support or your son as the case may be. A dependant sibling or grandparents will not be given anything without a will. But, you can do so under will. Even if you plan to distribute your wealth equally among all your heirs, you should write a Will to that effect to avoid disputes among your family members and make the transition of wealth easier. One can also write a Will for creating trusts. A Will does not only distribute wealth; it can also offer responsibilities. Who should take care of your children in absence of you and your spouse? Should they be raised by your brother who is in a financial mess or you want your elder sister to take care of them? Most of the time it becomes a bone of contention in deciding who would take care of the children after the demise of the parent.
You may want to make someone a non-beneficiary i.e. not give him/her anything in inheritance making the person a non-beneficiary in your will.
This blog aims at creating awareness in the masses about the importance of making Will. In case you have been procrastinating making of Will due to its complicated procedure and huge expenditure. We provide the best services in the field of Estate and succession planning which is available at a very competitive fee structure. DiL SE WLL, is a one stop solution for making an online will, consultation, legal advice and registration.
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