Source: IRIS (15-JUN-12)

Would you like to distribute your financial and non financial assets to the person of your choice or just create trouble among the family members.

Currently, the majority of disputes in the court are due to ambiguity on distribution of assets among heirs and this leads to long drawn legal battles.

In the absence of a Will, your assets would be distributed based on Personal Law, which will determine the distribution of your personal assets, irrespective of your choice. That is called “dying intestate

To avoid, this, it is recommended, any person of sound mind and above the age of 18 years makes a Will.  A Will becomes more important, when you have minor children born, in which case, you would need to appoint an appointee or guardian to execute the Will in your absence.

The will can be amended any number of times, based on changing conditions of one`s personal assets.

Therefore, a Will is a legal declaration of a person with respect to his property on how his assets should be distributed according to his choice.

The person making the Will is called a “Testator

Through a Will a Testator, can dispose off, any property movable or immovable, over which he is a beneficial owner after his death.

How should a WILL be made?

A Will must be in writing and should be signed by at least 2 witnesses.

A Will can be revoked or altered at anytime, by the Testator, when any such property is disposed off during his lifetime. However, the same, must be communicated in writing.

It is not compulsory to register a Will. However, it is recommended to register a Will. This would help preserve the Will. Registration of a Will is called a “Probate“.

A Will can be registered in the sub registrars office, within whose jurisdiction the immovable property is situated.

How to preserve a Will.

A Will can be preserved, by keeping the document in a sealed envelope and in a safe place. Alternatively, it can be put in a safe deposit locker in the bank, or it can be kept in the office of the Sub registrar in his safe keeping.

In India the Laws governing wills and succession are The Indian Succession Act 1925, The Hindu Succession Act 1956 for Hindus and Muslim personal law for muslims. In case of Christians to execute a Will, one needs to obtain a Probate from the courts. A Probate is a court order approving of the will as the last will of the testator and ordering its execution.

A Will also helps to minimize tax liability. This can be done by donations to charities or a gift to a loved one or creation of a Trust for proper distribution of assets.

(Contributed by Dilshad Billimoria BBM, LUTCF CFPCM, Certified Financial Planner and Investment Advisor)