Your Money – Will: Asset Planning for Your Absence

Succession becomes a complex exercise in the absence of a will. So plan ahead and write a will

Succession planning is an important part of financial planning. It allows you to plan matters such as the future security of your loved ones, decide who should be able to access their inheritance and how, etc. A will is one of the most crucial elements of an effective succession plan. It is a legal document that specifies how a person’s property, both movable and immovable, will be distributed among the beneficiaries after his death. Without such a legal declaration, the chances of litigation leading to costly legal battles and possible rift between family members are much higher.

Writing a will is not compulsory 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 according to the will of the owner of the assets. When a person dies without a will, their assets are distributed according to the respective inheritance laws.

Write a will

Anyone can make a will detailing how they wish to bequeath their property. It can be handwritten or typed. However, it should contain as many personal details as possible to avoid ambiguities, misinterpretations and conflicts. An ideal will should list all of your assets, including movable and immovable property, investments and cash, among other assets, and details of how they should be passed on.

You can also hire a lawyer or seek help online for the same. This can be essential if you have a lot of inherited assets or a complex line of inheritance. In such a case, you may want to hire a lawyer to get clarification on what can and cannot be included in your will to reduce the risk of litigation later. You can also prepare a video recording of your will to reduce the risk of litigation.

Witnesses

The will must be signed on each page in the presence of at least two independent witnesses, who must countersign certifying that the will was signed in their presence. The date and place must also be clearly indicated at the bottom of the will. Note that beneficiaries of a will cannot be witnesses.

Revocation and modification

You can revoke or change your will as many times as you want during your lifetime. Only the last written will is legally valid. Any modification of the will must take the form of a new will or a codicil. Any correction or overwriting of the will itself renders it invalid.

Executor

You will also need to appoint an executor, who will ensure that all provisions are followed as stated in the will. This is very essential in the case of real estate bequests, as such wills will have to be probated. The executor can be a beneficiary of the will or a trusted third party.

Registration

It is not compulsory to register a will but there may be cases where it is essential. For example, several states require probate of the will for property matters. The will can be registered at the office of the Deputy Registrar. The registered will can be presented to the court for probate. No probate is required for Muslims and Christians.

A will works as a safety net for your children and beneficiaries who rely on you for financial stability. Succession becomes a complex exercise in the absence of a will and can affect your loved ones. So plan ahead and don’t leave writing your will to the last minute.

Writing is CEO, Bankbazaar.com

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