There’s more to drawing up a will than just allocating property and possessions to your legal heirs. We’ll tell you all about it right here.
Drawing up a will forms the cornerstone of estate planning. It not only clearly spells out how your possessions and property post your death are to be handled, but it also offers a legally valid way to protect your spouse, children, family and assets (like earnings from your investments in Mutual Funds or Fixed Deposits), should there be any dispute after you have passed on.
However, most people still seem to put off drawing up a will due to a host of reasons. In this article, we’ll tell you five reasons why writing a will should be on your list of priorities. But first, let’s delve into the basics of a will.
What is a will?
Under the Indian Succession Act, 1925, a will is a legally binding document that puts forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and expresses your intention of how you want your wishes to be performed after your demise.
After the death of an individual, his or her property devolves in two ways:
- According to his will i.e. testamentary, or
- According to the respective laws of succession, when no will is made.
In case an individual dies intestate (dies without a will in place), the laws of succession come into play.
Additional reading: Death Claim: Documents Required For A Life Insurance Claim
5 important reasons why you need to draw up a will:
Because you love your family: Creating a will is one of the most well thought-out and responsible decisions that you can make for your family, especially if they are financially dependent on you. Since a will is a legally binding document and clearly indicates how you want your estate to be handled post your demise, it will minimise the occurrence of any dispute among your heirs and ensure that they get their fair share.
You have the option of removing people from your will: One of the lesser known advantages of possessing a will is that you have the option of removing individuals who you do not want your estate to end up in the hands of and who would otherwise stand to inherit your estate in the absence of a will. Estranged siblings or spouses could be a case in point.
Minimise estate taxes: A will can significantly bring down the burden of taxes that might be payable on the value of the property and the money you leave behind.
You can make gifts and donations: Many individuals prefer donating their life savings or making significant contributions to several charitable institutions after their demise. Having a will helps your executor carry out your wishes as you want it.
You decide who will be responsible for the affairs of your estate: While drawing up a will, it’s essential that you name an executor. This person could be your spouse, trusted friend, relative or even a lawyer specialising in estate planning.
You can empower your executor to ensure that all your affairs are in order including paying off bills and notifying banking establishments of your demise. Executors play the biggest role in the administration of your estate, so remember to appoint someone who is honest and trustworthy.
Additional reading: 10 Things To Know If You’re Looking To Create A Will
Things to keep in mind about wills:
- Your will should be legally valid
Your will is valid as long as it:
- a) Spells out in unambiguous terms how your estate is to be distributed.
- b) The will was not obtained by force, coercion, or under influence. In such instances, the will shall be considered void.
- c) Is signed and dated by you in the presence of two independent adult witnesses, and then signed by these witnesses in your presence. These witnesses cannot be people who are going to inherit anything from you.
- You can change your will as you deem fit
Remember, once you’ve made your will, it doesn’t mean that it is set in stone. You can change it at any time while you’re alive. Events like births, deaths or even divorce necessitate changes in your will.
- Codicil to the will
In case there are only sections of your will that you want changed without revising the entire will, you can do so by making a codicil to the will. The codicil can be executed in a similar way to the will. Neither the will nor the codicil is irrevocable. They can be altered or revoked at any time.
- Keep the will safely and securely
It’s crucial that you keep the will document safe, yet accessible. If you put the will in a safe deposit box that only you can get into, your family might need to seek a court order to gain access. Your lawyer or someone trustworthy should keep signed copies in case the original will is destroyed. However, the absence of an original will can complicate matters.
Additional Reading: Getting A Divorce? Here’s How You Can Split The Assets
Crafting a will may not be a task one would look forward to since it involves not only acknowledging that death is inevitable but even planning for it. Take some time out to draw up a will if you don’t want your entire life’s savings or investments to go up in smoke after your death.
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