PREPARATION OF A WILL
As one becomes older there is a need to facilitate the easy disbursement of one’s possessions and properties to one’s loved ones and dependants, so that there will be no legal battles among them. For this reason it is advisable that every one with some property or wealth should prepare a “WILL”.
A “WILL” can be defined as “A legal statement written by an individual stating the manner in which his or her wealth may be distributed after his or her demise”. A person making a Will is known as a “TESTATOR”.
It is best that one consults an advocate before preparing a Will. It would be better if the advocate is a person on whom you have the utmost confidence.
Here are some guidelines to prepare a WILL.
· It is better to make a Will at a younger age. As and when events or changes in the family necessitate changes the Will can be changed. One of the advantages of making a Will at an earlier age is that unscrupulous relatives could contest the legality of the Will made by a very old person on the basis that the person was not of sound mind when the Will was made.
· A Will must always be dated. If more than one Will made then the one having the latest date will nullify all other Wills. In fact it would be better to make a statement nullifying all other Wills.
· Will should be simple, precise and clear. Otherwise there may be problems for the legal heirs. Sometimes relatives and others may try to distort the interpretation of the Will for their own benefit. It is always better to take the advise of a trusted advocate.
· Will can be hand-written or types out. No stamp paper is necessary.
· There should be an Executor of the Will who would be entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that the assets are distributed according to the provisions of the Will. Sometimes more than one Executor may be required to execute the Will. The Testator (person making the Will) should take the prior consent of the person whom he or she wishes to name as the Executor.
· A Will should be signed by the Testator in the presence of at least two Witnesses who have to attest the same. The full names and address of the Witnesses should be clearly indicated in the Will. It would be better if one of the Witnesses is a medical practitioner, but this is not essential. The practitioner should certify that the Testator is of sound mind (especially if the Testator is of an advanced age) and he or she should also note his or her registration number and degree (educational qualification). A Witness should not be a beneficiary of the Will. A Witness should also not be an Executor of the Will.
· Each page of the Will should be serially numbered and signed by the Testator and the Witnesses. This is to prevent substitution, replacement or insertion of a page or pages by persons with fraudulent intentions. At the end of the Will the Testator can indicate the total number of pages in the Will. Corrections if any should be countersigned.
· The Will may be kept in a safe place like a bank vault. The Executor and the beneficiaries should be informed where the Will is kept. It is advisable to keep a signed copy of the Will with a trusted advocate. Duplicate copies of the Will may be made, signed by the Testator and the Witnesses and kept at separate places so that if one is misplaced the other may be used.
· Sometimes the value of certain items of the assets (example: value of share certificates) may fluctuate. In such a situation, it is better to mention the percentage of such item(s) which should go to each beneficiary.
· Whenever changes in the family circumstances or other reasons necessitate any change in the Will in the intervening period (from the time of making the Will to the time of demise of the Testator), the structure of the Will can be amended. Even if there are changes in the nature of the property or assets, an amendment may be needed.
· For making changes only in certain clauses of the Will, a Codicil (supplement) is to be prepared which should be read in conjunction with Will and which has the power to make appropriate changes in the relevant clauses of the Will.
· If there are to many changes in the Will, it is better to prepare an entirely new Will.
· It is not compulsory for one to register a Will with the Registering Authority, but in case ay property or asset is given to any charitable organization, then registration should be done.
· A person’s Will becomes operative only after his or her demise. There is no restriction in the way a person can deal with his or her property even after writing the Will.
· (The details provided above are only guidelines. You are well advised to seek legal advice before executing a Will)
Source: SBI Elders Voice