“WHO AFTER YOU?!” This may seem as an absurd question to many. Why would I invest my time wondering about my death and decide on who will get what of which I own currently? Isn’t life all about living in the present? True but you must know that you as an individual aren’t just responsible for yourself, you are responsible to your loved ones as well. You need to figure out and frame your will so that post your death, at the very least the financial impact that threatens to befall on your loved ones is eliminated to a great extent.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that contains details of your property (which includes movables eg: jewellery, watch and immovable eg: land), the names of those who’ll become the owner of your properties upon your death and exactly how, in what proportion, in what manner such a distribution of properties would take place.
Who can write a will?
- Anyone who is of sound mind.
- Anyone who is not a minor (above 18 years of age).
Why should I draft a will?
- To ensure a hassle-free and fair transfer of ownership of your properties to your loved ones as per your wishes without any delay.
- To ensure a safety valve for those you love from legal disputes and financial implications. This’ll also ensure you a peace of mind. In case you meet your death without framing a will, the probability that the person, whom you wanted to have a particular property in a particular share, may not ideally receive it becomes high. This generally happens because in the absence of a will, the government intervenes and distributes the property of the person in a particular manner.
- To stop succession laws from coming into play.
Few myths about will writing:
- I am still young:
Will Writing is the responsibility of every individual irrespective of age, earnings or any other difference. One should have their will ready and rechecked time and again (usually annually, as only the latest signed will is valid) right from the day they start earning their first income, when they open their bank accounts, or when they purchase their car or house or gold etc. The golden rule here is, “THE SOONER THE BETTER”.
- I have nominations (specifically w.r.t insurance):
This only means that you are nominating someone to hold the money… holding doesn’t mean ownership. A nominee is someone who will take care of your asset until it’s transferred to the real legal heir. So if you’ve put your wife’s name as a nominee, any of your family members can claim ownership of that money.
- My assets will anyways go to my family members:
In the absence of a will, your assets will get distributed as per the succession law of the religion that you belong to and not as per your wishes. Therefore it’s highly probable that upon your death, your spouse or children may not be able to claim your assets fully. Also, it’s highly probable that a legal dispute may arise as anyone can come and claim ownership of the asset. Legal disputes often create animosity between family members. It also leads to delay in ownership adding on to the existing emotional trauma and the hassle of bearing the financial burden.
- I will do it after retirement:
Death is not in anyone’s hands. It can knock the life out of you anytime without giving any due warning also. Do you really think that you should be waiting until your retirement period to write your will? Let’s not complicate…life is best enjoyed and lived when simplified. Therefore, take your first step in simplifying yours and your family’s lives by writing your will NOW!
- Why do I care what happens after I die! :
If you don’t care, then who will? I’m sure you wouldn’t want the burden of the impact of your ill preparedness and negligence to fall on your loved ones. Writing a will is a duty towards your loved ones and a commitment which you fulfil to yourself also.
- It is too complicated and expensive to write a will:
When a professional is hired to write a will, it may be expensive. However if one compares the cost against its benefits (which is peace of mind for you and protection from financial windfall, crushing legal hassles, delay in transfer of ownership and potential animosity between family members for your loved ones) then it’s definitely worth every rupee put in to frame that will. The option of E-will and DIY will (do-it-yourself will) is much cheaper and can be opted.
Things to note while writing a will (either by yourself or by hiring an expert):
- Consolidate all information of your assets/property.
- Be clear on “What you have, who is supposed to handle it and who is supposed to receive it (the beneficiary).”
- There’s no fixed format to write a will. FRAME YOUR WILL YOUR WAY!
- While framing, make a declaration in the beginning that the properties mentioned are under your ownership and that you are framing the will in a sound state of mind without any pressure or influence.
- A will can be made only of a self-acquired property. The fate of any property inherited shall be decided as per the personal laws.
- In case you have minor child/children, appoint a guardian. The guardian should be younger than you as he/she since they are to execute your will after your death.
- Your will is a private affair and must be kept confidential. The two witnesses only provide their signature and just like any person are equally unaware of the contents of the will.
- It’s not compulsory to register your will. However, registration of a will only strengthens its legal validity.
In conclusion, most people essentially focus only on wealth creation without giving much thought about what would happen to that wealth upon their death. This is a negligent approach as wealth creation (and sustainability of its flow) is just the first half of the circle called ‘financial planning’. The circle is complete only when it’s other half (will write) is also given equal importance. So complete this cycle and relieve your loved ones of probable pain (legal, financial, emotional) after your death by writing a will right now.