How to make a WILL? is one of the most common question among readers. In my previous post on Personal Finance, i explained the difference between Nomination and a Will. In this post, i will explain How to make a WILL?
Entire Banking system work on an assumption that “All the depositor will not withdraw entire amount on a single day”. Similarly we live on an assumption that “We are going to LIVE forever”. Whenever i recommend my young readers to make a WILL. He / She fire reverse question that i am only in early 30’s, why i need a WILL? I would like to add that the 1st and foremost fundamental principal of Personal Finance is to make a WILL irrespective of age and size of investment portfolio.
After you have decided to make a WILL. Next question, which comes to mind is How to make a WILL? Answer is very simple that if your age is above 21 years then you can make a WILL yourself even on plain paper as It is not necessary to make a WILL on Stamp paper. In case, you want to make a foolproof WILL then it is better to register the WILL in sub-registrar office or make a WILL in front of Magistrate. Though you can write your own WILL & don’t need any Lawyer to prepare a WILL but if you would like to take professional advise on How to make a WILL? then you should hire Professional Service or any trustworthy Lawyer for same. Its better to hire professional service rather hiring a Lawyer. While making a WILL you need to take care of some fundamental do’s and don’ts irrespective you are writing your own WILL or making it through your lawyer. I am listing down all important steps
Step 1: Personal Details: It is very important to enter all the personal details accurately. Please note that any minor error in personal details can lead to nullification of your WILL in future e.g. if your FULL Name including Middle Name as per legal records is Santosh Mohan Jadhav and in your WILL, you mentioned only Santosh Jadhav then your WILL can be challenged in the court. In personal details include your Date of Birth, Father’s Name and full Residential Address.
Step 2: Revoke all previous WILL’s & mention the current date on which you are making the WILL. Also mention that current WILL you are making is your last WILL & it will supersede all the previous WILL’s. If you remember the dates of previous WILL’s then specify the same in current WILL mentioning all previous WILL’s dated so and so stands Null & Void. If you don’t have any previous WILL then specify that you don’t have any other previous WILL & the WILL you are making is your last & final WILL. Don’t forget to write date in figures to avoid any legal dispute e.g. today’s date should be written as Fourth Day of December in the English year Two Thousand Twelve (04 December, 2012)
Step 3: Self Declaration: Almost all the WILL’s are challenged in court on the ground that WILL is executed either under any influence/force/coercion or the Testator (Person who make the WILL) was not of sound mind or in good health at the time of executing the WILL. It is strongly advisable to give self declaration in the WILL regarding the same. The self declaration should be attested by the 2 witnesses i.e. Witnesses should certify that Testator is of sound mind & is not forced to sign the WILL under any influence.
Step 4: Appointing Executor: It is necessary or mandatory to appoint a Executor in the WILL. Executor is the legal representative of the Testator. The job of Executor is to ensure that all the Assets of Testator are distributed as per the Last WILL. You can appoint anyone as Executor including a Lawyer or any relative. Don’t forget to mention your relationship with the Executor along with full address of the Executor. Please keep in mind that Executor or his/her legal heirs should not be Beneficiary of the WILL to avoid any conflict of interest & legal dispute.
Step 5: Mention Each Beneficiary Separately: It is important to note that, if you would like to add more than 1 Beneficiary in your WILL then you should mention each of them in separate paragraphs immediately followed by details of assets you would like to pass on to respective Beneficiary. Some of the Lawyers prepare a WILL by listing down all the assets in one section and then division of same to all the beneficiaries in next section. It might cause confusion therefore it is critical to list down each Beneficiary along with list of assets he will get in single section. Don’t forget to add your relationship with each beneficiary & full address of the beneficiary. If the Beneficiary is a married women then kindly mention her Husband’s name.
Step 6: Details of Assets: While mentioning the details of assets to individual Beneficiary, kindly mention complete details of the asset
(a) In case of a immovable property, mention the complete address of the property.
(b) Bank accounts & Fixed deposits: Kindly mention the Account no and Address of the branch.
(c) Locker: Kindly mention that you would like to pass entire contents of locker to respective beneficiary & don’t forget to write Locker No. and address of the branch. Please note that all contents of locker should be passed on to one beneficiary only to avoid any legal dispute.
(d) Insurance Policy: Mention the policy No. and Insurance provider
(e) Mutual Funds: Mention the Folio No. along with complete scheme name and Fund house.
(f) Demat Account: If you are bequeathing Demat account to one person then no need to mention the stock holdings but if you wish to pass Demat account stock holding to multiple beneficiary then mention stock holding pattern along with Demat account no., bank name and branch address
(g) Complete List of Assets: It is critical to mention each and every asset in WILL including any 4 wheeler or 2 wheeler you have. Before closing the WILL, pls re-check whether you missed any asset. If yes then include the same.
Step 7: Cover all other Assets missed out (If any): It is advisable to complete your WILL by putting this small clause in list of assets under any of Beneficiary e.g. if you are making a WILL in the name of Wife, Son and Daughter then in the list of assets passed on to any of Beneficiary, kindly add that “Any other Asset of which i am the owner but not mentioned in this WILL”
Step 8: Sign the Will: Once you complete writing the WILL, sign the WILL in the presence of 2 witnesses (Non beneficiaries). Also mention the date on which you are signing the WILL and place of Signing. Before signature add a small declaration that all assets listed in WILL are self acquired & no one else has any right, Claim or interest in the assets or properties listed in the WILL. Testator should sign on all the pages of the WILL
Step 9: Witnesses Attestation & Signature: Witnesses should attest that WILL is signed by the testator in front of them without any coercion. Witnesses should also mention that Testator is of sound mind and is in a good health at the time of signing the WILL. It is important to mention Name, Father’s Name and Address of both the witnesses. Both witnesses should sign on all the pages of the WILL.
Important Note: On internet you will find hundred of Sample WILL formats but please understand that each WILL is different and should be customized as per requirement of Testator. If you need my help to prepare your WILL then you can contact me for same.
1. WILL should always be handwritten by person who is making a WILL to avoid any legal dispute in future
2. If the WILL is of 2 pages then on each page clearly mention Page 1 of 2, & Page 2 of 2 at bottom to avoid any fraud or fudging.
3. Kindly don’t make any correction in the WILL. if any correction required then re-write the entire page.
4. In the ideal scenario, the 2 Witnesses on the WILL should be Doctor and a Lawyer
5. Any Beneficiary of the WILL cannot become Witness of the WILL
6. You cannot make a WILL for any joint account. In case you have joint property & you own 60% share in the property (As mentioned in Sale deed) then you can only make a WILL for your 60% share. If property is owned by Husband and Wife & share % is not mentioned in SALE Deed then by default share of Husband & Wife is 50% each.
7. A WILL should be made by only 1 person not jointly. If Husband & Wife would like to make a WILL then they should make it separately.
8. A WILL can be made only for those assets or properties which are self owned and self acquired by the Testator.
9. The WILL should be prepared and signed on the same day
10. You need to change your WILL in following cases
(a) In the unfortunate event of death of Executor or any of Beneficiary.
(b) If you buy new asset or sell any asset mentioned in the WILL
(c) If Testator, Executor, Beneficiary or Witnesses change their Name
(d) If you wish to include new beneficiary or exclude any beneficiary from the WILL
10. It is important to communicate Executor and Beneficiary that you have made your WILL & respective people are Executor & beneficiary. It is not necessary to reveal the contents of WILL but it is critical that Executor and Beneficiary should be aware about your WILL. Also pls inform Executor & Beneficiaries where you are storing the WILL. Ideally keep the WILL in bank locker and it should be kept in sealed envelope with your signature & date. On envelope you can also mention that WILL envelope should be opened in the presence of XYZ person/s.
11. In case the Beneficiary is Minor then it is important to appoint Custodian of Minor, who will take care of the assets till minor turn 18.
12. Neither Executor nor the Witnesses or their legal heirs should be beneficiary of the WILL
13. Don’t mention value of asset while distributing it among beneficiaries rather asset should be distributed in % terms. Value of asset will be determined at the time of execution of WILL.
Hope above mentioned points have cleared all the doubts regarding WILL. If you have any other query on How to make a WILL? Please feel free to post the same in trail comments section. I will answer the same.
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