Where there is a Will ..... there is a way.....

Being a lawyer, a wife and a mother, there is little that surprises me......but there are many things that
make me think....and when I think, I write...Recently, I had a client tell me an interesting story. She was in the bank to withdraw some money from her husband's account (this was not a joint account). When the cashier saw that the amount involved was in six figures and when she saw that the said husband had not himself come down to make the withdrawal, they asked her for identification and made her wait for a good half hour while they satisfied themselves that she was indeed the wife and that she did have the right to withdraw the money! It got me thinking, if merely to withdraw money from her own husband's account she had to undergo all this...think about it when there are no proper nominations and clear instructions as to who gets what after a person has passed on....

As a law student, I had already learnt how important it is to make a Will, but now that I have grown since then, and now that I see the world around me, I think it makes all the more sense. Everyone should make a will when they are alive, so as to make it easier for their loved ones to claim what is rightfully theirs. Merely having nominated someone in all your financial documents does not cut it! Nomination is not an automatic guarantee that the nominee will legally receive what you intend them to. In the eyes of the law, a nominee is a trustee and he need not necessarily be a beneficiary to the will. So this means, if there is a will, the nominee will only hold the assets as a caretaker trustee for the beneficiary. The nominee will be legally bound to transfer the nominated property to the beneficiary of the will. If there is no will, he will transfer the same to the legal heirs. So, ideally if there is a will, it would be better to name the nominee as the beneficiary to ensure that distribution is smooth and efficient.
A will is so important that ideally it should be the first step to your financial planning. If a person intends to leave specific property to specific people it is a must to make your will. It is important to know that if a person dies intestate (that is without making a will), his estate passes according to the Laws of Succession, which differ according to the personal laws of the people. In case of dispute, the family members of the deceased have to produce the proof about their relationship with him and also have to go find lawyers and spend money and energy. Hence it makes sense to gift them some time of yours, and create a will to ease things!
Making a will is a very simple process which involves no stamp duty or registration, although most experts advice that a will be registered so it is in safe custody. A will can be made by anyone who is above 21 years of age by writing or typing it up on plain paper. There is no legal requirement to make a will on stamp paper either. It can be made in any language so long as it is easy to understand and it gives clear and detailed directions and the instructions. An executor needs to be appointed in the will to oversee that the assets are distributed as per the wishes penned in the will. A will has to be dated. In case the will is changed in future, the one with the latest date would nullify the earlier wills. The document has to be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses who are different from the executor. The witnesses should sign and write their names on each page of the document. If a will is prepared in old age, a doctor's certification would be required as to the sanity of the person making the will. (this may not be required if the will is made in youth). It is always better to number the pages and mention the total number of pages at the end. In case of any changes made, it is required to countersign the same. The will can be kept in a bank vault or such other safe place. It is also better to make copies of the same and keep them in different places. (Keep the executor and the witnesses informed as to the location, though.)
For many people, talking about making a will is pretty morbid, and hence they don't look at this with the right attitude. Many people refrain from talking about making a will or feel bad when someone talks to them about it as it seems to them that this is the harbinger of death or doom. Many consider it inauspicious to talk about these things when you are alive and well, but when you look at the pros and cons, it is better to be safe, than sorry.      

Related post: Where there is a Will...there is a way 2

Comments

  1. Very good post. Concise and informative. Maybe you can write more articles on this topic.

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  2. Great write up Rashmi....very informative and helpful..Thanks for such a detailed write up..it really helps...:)

    Keep writing...they r as gud as u..:)

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  3. Thanks Chirag and Kavita...the idea is to write about things that are actually very common but when it comes to the nitty-gritties, nobody really is aware of the specifics....thanks for the feedback....if you have any topics you want me to elaborate upon, feel free to let me know, maybe it can help others too....

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