A “Will” or “Testament” is a legal document by which a person (the ‘testator’) expresses as to how his/her movable/immovable property needs to be transferred/ distributed on account of his/her death. There are different types of wills and in this blog, we will discuss one of these, namely, the privileged will.
A privileged will is one that can be made by a member of the Armed Forces engaged in actual warfare or employed in a certain expedition. As a will is nothing but a legal declaration, certain formalities must be met with for making a valid will in India. However, considering the associated possibility and dangers of sudden death and lack of time, owing to the nature of their line of duty, such formalities are somewhat relaxed for the armed forces. This is what separates a privileged will from other forms of wills such as an unprivileged will. In India, the privileged will cases are governed by the Succession Act of 1925.
Most families in India do not follow the practice of creating a will. However, death is an unavoidable scenario and having a privileged will in family law can help families to avoid legal hassles related to property matters, that may arise on account of the death of the head of the family.
Moreover, Armed Force personnel employed in actual warfare or warlike situations cannot always have the time and resources for completing the entire formalities associated with executing a legal will. Therefore, as per privileged will case law, they are allowed some relaxation with regard to these formalities.
Here, we will look at some of the major benefits of having a privileged will in india -
In contrast to other forms of will, even a person below the age of 18 years can create a valid privileged will. This is important for young people under 18 years of age, who are recruited in the Armed Forces. Because of their tender age, they would not be able to create a conventional will otherwise.
As per section 154 of the Indian Inheritance Tax Act of 1984, the exemption is allowed on the assets passed on by a privileged will in india. This exemption is granted on the estates of present/former members of the Armed Forces if an active service has led to their death.
The validity of privileged will gets extended after the creator has left the Armed Forces, has no longer been amidst the dangers of operational duties or even after a war has ended. Also, the creator is free to make alterations in his will even after the change of circumstances which gave him the power to make the privileged will earlier. He will still be assumed to be in the privileged status.
Because of the inherent relaxations, a privileged will in family law can be executed at a short notice. This is extremely helpful in situations when an Armed Force Personnel is about to put his life at risk.
The following conditions must be satisfied for making a valid privileged will in india-
As shown by privileged will cases, a privileged will can be executed by adhering to the following rules-
A privileged will can be revoked as well, without completing the formalities required for that of a conventional will, only if the testator has remained in privileged status. But, if the testator is no longer in the war zone or has left the Armed Services altogether, he must revoke the Will in complete accordance with the provisions mentioned in the Wills Act, 1837.
I have made an unprivileged will. Do I need to register for it?
You are not legally bound to register your privileged will. But, it is a good idea to have it registered with the Sub-registrar under the provisions of the Indian Registration Act, 1908. The registrar then becomes the legal guardian of the will and there will be strong evidence in law for the validity of the will. The validity of the registered will cannot be changed after your death.
I want to revoke my privileged will. How can I do it?
You can revoke your privileged will without completing the formalities required for that of a conventional will, only if you have remained in privileged status. But, if you are no longer in the war zone or have left the Armed Services altogether, you must revoke the Will in complete accordance with the formalities mentioned in the Wills Act of 1837.
Am I entitled to get tax exemption on the assets left by my father in his privileged will?
Yes, you are. As per section 154 of the Indian Inheritance Tax Act of 1984, the exemption is allowed on the assets passed on by a privileged will. This exemption is granted on the estates of present/former members of the Armed Forces if an active service has to led to their death.
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