Category: Will & Estate Planning

How do I know if i have made a Comprehensive Will

A will is a document made by a person to record how they want to distribute their assets after their death. It can be legally enforced when it is written and signed by the person and two witnesses.

It is important to write a will so that your estate is distributed the way you wish for it to be done. If there is no will, the laws of inheritance will be put into force.

Let us look at the important factors that make a will complete -

What Should I Include In My Will

  • Assets – Assets such as bank accounts, real estate, investments, gold, art, and collectible items. You should also list out your insurance policies.
  • Digital Assets – Most of us have a life in the virtual world as well. Our virtual assets include email, social network accounts, domains, websites, blogs, etc. Photographs, soft documents, family videos, messages also are digital assets. If you are particular about how they should be managed, you should mention it in the will. For example, you can mention who should access your emails and social media accounts and what should they do about it. You have to list down who gets to keep your laptops or handheld devices and what is to be done with the contents in them.
  • Liabilities – List down your liabilities such as loans and all information related to them. You should mention how your estate should settle your outstanding debts, funeral expenses and expenses towards will execution after your demise.

Who Should Be Included In The Will Writing Process

  • Beneficiaries – Does your will mention all the beneficiaries of your estate? You have to clearly write down who will inherit the assets you leave behind and their personal information such as name, age, address and phone number so that there is no ambiguity.
  • Guardians – If you have dependents, it is important to write down who will their guardians be when you are not around. Minor children cannot get involved in business transactions. The guardian can act as the caretaker for the assets till your children become adults. You have to think carefully before selecting a guardian and take a decision in the best interests of your dependents. It is better to list down at least two guardians.
  • Will Executor – The will executor will make sure your wishes are carried out and your finances are in order. This could include making sure your beneficiaries receive the money you’ve left them. It can also include filing your final taxes, paying any bills you left behind and closing your financial accounts.
  • Pets – If you have pets, you should mention how they should be taken care of and who you wish to take care of them, when you are not around.

How Do I Write My Will?

  • You can either hire a lawyer to draft the will or write it on your own. There are many online will writing services too whose services you can avail of. Your financial advisor can guide you to draft the will as well.
  • Mention all your beneficiaries, assets and liabilities. Describe how your estate will be divided and how your liabilities are to be paid off. Write down the names of guardians for dependent loved ones
  • Write down other wishes such as handling of particular matters or instructions on funeral arrangements
  • Sign your will.
  • Get two witnesses (preferably people not named in any other capacity in the will) to sign it.
  • Register the will with the registrar (not mandatory).

Whom Should I Talk To About The Will?

  • There is no point in keeping the will as a secret. Discuss its contents with your beneficiaries and listed guardians so that they know your thought process. Inform them on its location. If you have a financial advisor, inform him about the details of the will too.

Other Important Pointers

  • You can make changes to your will. If you make a new will, the older wills are considered to be null and void. You should also register the updated will, rendering the previous one invalid. The latest will (registered or unregistered) will be considered as the final will irrespective of whether older will documents are present and/or registered.
  • If you have assets in multiple countries, it is better to make a separate will for each country so that there is no confusion or legal hassles.
  • If you do not make a will and are a Hindu, Buddhist or Jain or are not a Muslim, Christian, Paris or Jew , your assets will be distributed among the nearest heirs as per court of law. If you are a Muslim, Christian, Paris or Jew, succession is governed by religious inheritance laws

It is imperative to have a wealth succession plan in place. The best way to do it is to make a will that is complete in all aspects.