Where there is a will there is a way. Certainly when there is a WILL there is a less confusion for your legal heirs.
Estate Planning is the process of making a plan in advance and naming whom you want to receive the things you own after you die. Estate Planning is one of the most neglected aspects of personal financial planning.
If the head of the family dies without leaving a Will (Intestate) or without mentioning the nominee names then it is an upheaval task for the legal heirs to access the investments/assets. We have lot of high profile examples for this, like Dhirubhai Ambani, Abraham Lincoln, Picasso, Agatha Christie, who died without writing a Will.
Accumulating assets/wealth may be important, but it is equally important to ensure that your inheritance is passed on smoothly to your heirs.
What is a Will?
The most basic instrument of Estate Planning is a Will. A Will is a legal document that clearly sets out your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your death. It should be done in the presence of two witnesses.
Drafting a Will is a very easy job. Legally speaking, you can just jot down all the properties’ or assets’ details in a piece of paper (Stamp paper is not required). Mention the beneficiaries name(s) and sign on it. Get it attested by two independent witnesses. It is recommended that witnesses should not be the beneficiaries of your will. This is because they should not stand to gain from your Will.
Online e-WILL – Service Providers
As discussed, the process of making a Will is easy. But, you can now get this done online by the experts (mostly lawyers) at a very minimal cost. (Generally lawyers may charge atleast Rs 15000 to Rs 20000 minimum for drafting a Will).
Some of the service providers who are offering this service are:
- HDFC Securities : E-Will
- Ezeewill.com of NSDL (National Securities Depository Limited)
HDFC, NSDL and Willjini are currently offering the online Will drafting service for Rs 4,000. NSDL is charging Rs 250 for any additional reviews. LegalDesk charges Rs 1,999 for creating a Draft Will. Your online Will (draft) will be sent to your e-mail account or to your residence (available at select cities at extra delivery charges.).
Online Will – The Process..
The process of writing an e-will is almost similar with all the service providers.
- Register for e-Will service by providing your personal details. Like – your name, gender, date of birth etc.,
- Get the login credentials (Login Id and password)
- Pay the charges (Rs 4000/-) online using your net-banking account or debit/credit cards.
- Enter your other details like – Residential status (Resident or NRI), Religion, occupation etc.,
- Enter your family member details
- Fill in details of all your assets
- Provide details about who will be the beneficiaries of your assets.
- Generate the E-Will and get the legal Will by email
- Sign the Will and get it attested by two witnesses
All the above service providers claim that this whole process is done in a secured encrypted environment. It is as good as trading financial securities online. They cannot view or access your e-Will details.
Registration of Will
The Registration (or) notarization of the Will is not mandatory. But you may get it registered by visiting the nearest Sub-Registrar office. No stamp duty charges applicable for this. But, you may incur Registration and scanning charges. To register, you have to visit personally along with two witnesses. Carry your original Will, Fitness certificate (given by MBBS Doctor) and KYC documents (address, ID proofs).
Important terminologies used in a Will:
- Testator – The person who makes the Will
- Beneficiary(ies) – The person(s) who inherits property under a Will
- Executor – The testator’s legal representative who will execute the Will. He/she is the person who distributes the assets as per the Will.
- Codicil – This is a legal document used to append, alter or add to an existing Will. Minor changes in the Will can be made using a Codicil
Important points to be noted
Below are few important points to be considered while writing your Will (or) while filling in your details online.
- A Will is considered as a living document. You can make as many changes as you want.
- You should be more than 18 years of age
- Review your Will if you buy new assets (or) sell the existing ones.
- You can change beneficiary(ies) or the Executor names at any point of time. You may make a Codicil.
- It is not mandatory to appoint an Executor however it is preferred
- If possible make sure that the two witnesses and the executor are younger than you. They may be still around when your Will is being executed.
- You may mention minor children as the beneficiaries. But, you have to nominate guardians for them.
- Jointly held properties can be included in your Will. Only to the extent of your share in those kind of assets can be distributed by you in your Will.
- If you have mentioned nominee name while investing in Bonds or Shares then he/she will be the beneficiary. The nomination supersedes the Will. This is applicable for investments which fall under the purview of the Companies Act.
- For all the other investments like Real estate, mutual funds, bank accounts, insurance policies etc., your Will supersedes the nomination.
- A Joint Will can be made. Both spouses can write a joint Will. However, such joint WILL can take effect only after the death of both and not during lifetime of either one.
- You can cancel or revoke the Will at any point of time.
- In case of Christians and Parsis the WILL gets cancelled/revoked on marriage.
- Muslim are mainly governed by their personal laws in respect to WILL and inheritance. As a general rule Muslims can make a WILL of only 1/3 rd of his/her properties and the remaining properties are distributed as per the succession mentioned in Sharia laws.
(You may like reading my article on “How to write a WILL and Sample Draft of a WILL.“)
We are living in a world of uncertainty. Anything can happen at anytime. So, it is advisable to have a written Will irrespective of your age, income or networth. It reduces the chances of legal disputes and lessens the emotional distress of your legal heirs.