All you need to know about Last Will and Testament By Shrutika Pandey - October 4, 2019 Last Updated at: May 15, 2020 3414 All you need to know about Last Will and Testament Indian Succession Act, 1925 governs testamentary succession (Part VI). In case any person dies intestate, their laws shall apply, otherwise, the Indian Succession Act also has rules for intestate succession, different for different religions. A Will takes effect only after the death of the testator. As per Section 2(f) of the Indian Succession Act, 1995 it has been defined as: “The Will is a legal wish of the person writing it, of how he wants his property to be distributed after his death. It is a document made by a testator (the person making the Will) before his death, where he expresses how he wishes his property to be distributed after his death.” Let’s have a look at some of the important terminologies Intestate: If a person dies without making a Will, he is said to have died ‘intestate Codicil: Codicil is an amendment or change made in the original will. (Section 2(b) and Section 62 of the Indian Succession Act) Executor: The executor is the person you select who shall be in charge of distributing your estate according to your will after you pass. A female executor is sometimes called an executrix. Probate: Probate is certifying the validity of the Will of the testator It is necessary to execute the Will. [2(f) of the Indian Succession Act] Testator or Testatrix: The person making the Will and signing his or her name. Bequest or Bequeath: A bequest is a property belonging to someone that they say that, after their death, they wish to be given to other people. Bequeath is the verb for the word bequest. Make a will Why does one need a Will? What does it contain? Who can write it? What are the conditions for a valid Will? What are the benefits of a Will? Consequences of not having Will or testament What happens if one had the Will but failed to update it? Why does one need a Will? A will is a mandatory part of anyone’s life plan. It is a primary document used in multiple scenarios. Also, It is used in transferring one’s assets after their demise. Similarly, It is used while deciding on who gets to manage one’s estate or other owning. This allows one to decide and officiate who inherits their assets and when. Hence, with it, one can choose a guardian for their minor kids. What does it contain? Introductory statement This part is important to understand who the testator or testatrix is, where he is residing, what is his age at the time of making it and who all are in his family. Therefore, the essentials to be mentioned are: Name of the Testator/Testatrix Father’s. Mother’s or Husband’s Name Age of the Testator/Testatrix Residence of the Testator/Testatrix List of Family Members Date of Execution Verification Statement of assets and liabilities Assets and liabilities (Property) is the main context of the Will. Thus, they are stated in a descriptive manner. This helps in knowing the net worth. You could mention all your assets like bank investments (savings account, current account, fixed deposit receipts, recurring deposit accounts) financial investments (stocks, debentures, bonds, mutual funds,) immovable properties like houses, or personal assets like jewels, insurance like life insurance policies, retirement benefits, etc. Liabilities are the money you owe to other parties for example bank loans, mortgage debt, taxes owed, etc. Identification of beneficiaries and executor: On the making of a Will, one must know who are the beneficiaries for which property and who shall be its executor. Sometimes, The beneficiary gets a part of the property. Therefore, it must be mentioned which beneficiary is entitled to which property or a part thereof. Who can write it? Any person who is a major, i.e., above 18 years of age The person must be of sound mind, memory, and understanding. For instance, An insane person in a lucid interval of sanity cannot be a Will-maker A person with a disability (For example impaired hearing, vision, or speech). Foreigners and convicts An intoxicated or a ill person to a level that hampers his comprehensive decision. What are the conditions for a valid Will? Signature of the Testator Attestation by two or more witnesses Where witnesses must not be beneficiaries under it. Must not be obtained by fraud, coercion or undue influence. A Will does not adhere to any particular format or does not require strict registration. There is no need for stamp paper and polarization. Firstly, It is optional for the testator or testatrix and it is not a mandatory requirement under the law. Secondly, It can be revoked by making a subsequent one. The earlier one shall be automatically nullified. Furthermore, it can also be altered by executing codicil, which is a supplement or addition explaining or modifying completely or part of it. What are the benefits of a Will? There are many benefits to having a will and the most important ones are as follows It can be one’s voice even after their demise. It helps you pass along your assets as proposed. Ensures family’s welfare Facilitates effective management of one’s property. Consequences of not having a will or testament When a person dies before producing a valid Will then it is termed as intestate. In this case, the state inherits the power to be the executor of the estate. Therefore, The state decides on the distribution of money and other assets among the legal inheritors. In addition to that, the state decides on the guardianship arrangements for the children as well when required. What happens if one had the Will but failed to update it? It is dangerous to have none or outdated Will. When a person fails to update it, they are permitting people whom they no longer have relationships with to inherit their owning and other assets. Let us imagine a person A. A married B. He created a Will then. They divorced each other soon. But A failed to update the Will and soon he passed away. As a result, B is justified to inherit all of A’s assets even when they are no longer together. In other words, not updating it might result in letting go of the assets and other powers to people who they are no longer in good terms with.