Where there is a Will ..... there is a way.....2


Let's choose executors and talk of wills:
And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
William ShakespeareRichard II (c. 1595), Act III, scene 2, line 148. 

A few days back in my blog, I wrote a post about the importance of making a will; and making one when time is still on your side. Many of my friends who read the blog, had a lot of questions...some of them quite specific...some wanted to know if it is required to seek legal counsel when making a will, while some wanted to know what exactly one can include in one's will? Some wanted to know if a soft copy of a will is admissible, while some had questions as to where the will needed to be for safe keeping. The questions made it pretty clear that although, as far as lawyers are concerned, making a will is mere technicality, albeit a very important one; for the general public who have limited or often wrong knowledge of law, it is very important to have a few more clarifications. So, guys, here's a special blog in your honour ......
We all work very hard to achieve our goals in life. All your hard work, all our sacrifices are ultimately for one goal and one goal only.....personal satisfaction! Along the way, we accumulate assets, wealth, sometimes property.....and then when the time comes, we leave it all to our loved ones and take a final bow! But as mentioned in my earlier blog-post, our achievements of the lifetime are of virtually no use if there is no clear will or testamentary document that gives the exact and detailed information/instructions when it comes to the distribution of assets among the beneficiaries. A will is clearly for the convenience of both the testator (the person making the will) and the beneficiaries (those receiving assets or such by virtue of the will). It saves the beneficiaries the trouble of going through legal hassles which invariably arise in case of a person passing on intestate (without making a will); and at the same time gives assurance to the testator that his assets will be distributed/divided among his loved ones as per his wishes, and his wishes alone. Another reason a person may want to make a will can be to name legal guardian/s for his/her children. This is very important because in case of children with no legal guardian, the law provides legal guardians as per the personal laws of people (i.e laws relating to guardianship under Hindu law, Muslim law, Parsi law, Christian law etc.); and it is definitely better to choose the next best person to take care of your child than letting some random court appointed person do it.  
The next obvious question was 'what' should one include in the will? Are there any definite requirements for a will? Most prefer to seek legal counsel for this, but it is good to know a few key requirements of a will; if a person wants to test the waters himself. Some very basic and important points to be remembered are that a will should have the testator's name and address, a short description of all the assets of the testator, names of beneficiaries and alternate beneficiary in case the one named becomes deceased before the testator, gifts to people, if desired, cancellation of debts, name of the executor to manage the testator's assets, name of the guardian to look after minor children, if any; testator's signature; and two witnesses' signatures.     
And now for that little additional information that is always good to have: just like almost everything in life, there are a variety of different types of wills a person can chose from :) Here goes:
Conditional or contingent wills: a will may be expressed to take effect only in the event of happening of some contingency or condition and if the contingency does not happen or the condition fails, the will is not legally enforceable
Joint wills: A joint will is a testamentary instrument whereby two or more persons agree to make a conjoint will. Where a will is joint and is intended to take effect after the death of both, it will not be enforceable during the life-time of either. Joint wills are revocable at anytime by either of the testators during their lives, or after the death of one, by the survivor. 
Mutual wills: A will is mutual when two testators confer upon each other reciprocal benefits by either of them constituting the other his legatee (recipient of a legacy).
Duplicate wills: A testator, for the sake of safety, may make a will in duplicate, one to be kept by him and the other to be deposited in the safe custody with a bank or executor or trustee. If the testator mutilates or destroys the one which is in his custody, it is revocation of both. 
Concurrent wills: Generally a man should leave only one will at the time of his death. However, for the sake of convenience, a testator may dispose of some properties in one country by one will and the other properties in another county by a separate will. 
Holograph wills: These are wills which are written entirely in the handwriting of the testator. 
…and there are some more too.
So, you could start getting ready to write your will today by taking an inventory of your assets, and who receives them. It is best to consider your family's future liabilities in case of unfortunate death, and decide for yourself if you want to do the honourable act. 

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

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