Making a Will in India
Looking at the current number (nearly 2.2 crore) of family property disputes pending in the various courts in India the importance of making a will is undeniable. By drafting a will, the will maker ensures that there will be no squabbles over his/her property in the event of his/her demise.
But many do not prepare a will simply because they do not know the correct procedure to make a will in India.
Contrary to popular beliefs, writing a will is actually a very simple affair without any legal hassles. Given below are various details related to making a will in India such as the cost, contents and prerequisites of will making that can help anyone write a will easily.
How to Make a Will in India?
First and foremost, it is important to understand what exactly a will is and what its contents are.
A will is a document that states how the assets of the will maker will be divided amongst people and institutions.
A person may want to give a part of their property to a charitable institution. By writing a will this intent of the person becomes clear and irrevocable.
For a will to be legal it is important that it should fulfill certain prerequisites.
Prerequisites of Will Making
- The person making the will should be an adult. According to the Indian Majority Act any person who is of 18 years or more is considered an adult.
- The will maker should be of sound mind. A will made by a person of unsound mind is considered valid if the will was made during the person’s sane moments.
- A person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs cannot prepare a will.
- A person cannot prepare a will when he/she is too ill to understand the various elements of his/her will.
Other than the above, there are no other essentials to will making in India.
In fact, you do not even need to write a will on a stamp paper. A will can be simply be hand written on a piece of plain paper.
Sometimes a well written will in the person’s own handwriting is better than typed will because such wills are difficult to challenge. Handwritten will requires signature of at least two witnesses.
Contents of a Will
So, what can a will contain? Here is a list of items that will help you prepare a will that is valid and complete.
- Name of the person making the will and his date of birth.
- A declaration that this will is the latest will and any other will made prior to the current one remain revoked.
- A declaration stating the soundness of mind of the will maker.
- A list of all the assets and clear instructions about their distribution.
You can only include the assets or property that is in your name in your will. Any property that you hold jointly or is a family property cannot be part of your will.
- In case some of the property is being distributed to minors then the will maker will need to assign a guardian to the minor who will take care of the property till the minor becomes 18 years old.
- You will also need to state an executor who will carry out the instructions written in the will in an impartial way. According to the Indian Succession Act (section 141) a benefactor can also be named as an executor.
- The signature of the will maker and two or more witnesses on the will.
The registration of the will is optional and not compulsory. Though, it is always better to get the will registered at the sub registrar’s office. This increases the authenticity of the will and the will maker.
What are the Requirements for a Will to be Valid?
As stated earlier, for a will to be valid it should be made by an adult of sound mind. Other requirements for the will to be considered valid are:
- The will should not be made under duress. Such wills are considered void.
- The will should be signed by the will maker and witnesses. Though it is not necessary for the will maker to sign on each page of the will, doing so reduces the chances of frauds. It is also better to sign just after the last line of the will in order to ensure that no one inserts anything in between.
- While writing a will the will maker should ensure that the will is clearly written and meaningful. People can challenge a will if:
# The will maker makes handwritten notes on a printed will.
# Different colored ink is used.
# Same asset is given to different people.
# Name of the property or numbers are not clear.
In short, the will should be meaningful, non-contradictory and clear in its intent.
How Much Does It Cost to Make a Will in India?
In case the will maker decides to employ a lawyer to prepare the will then he will have to pay the lawyer fees. The fees will depend upon the experience level of the professional.
Hence, the total cost of drafting and registering a will in India if done by a professional can fall in the range of Rs.4000 – Rs.10000.
But, can a will be made without a lawyer?
Yes it can and it will be cheaper to do so.
If the will maker makes the will himself/herself and decides to register the will then he will have to pay a nominal fee of Rs. 100 only. There are no stamp duty charges. But, if the will maker makes the will himself and does not register it then it will cost him nothing.
Wrap Up – Importance of Writing a Will
A person can prepare a will as many times as he wants in his lifetime. Change in the status of assets or change in the number of family members due to marriage, births or deaths can be some of the reasons that can make a person change his will.
The last will is considered the latest and valid one.
By writing a will a person ensures that their property is distributed according to their wishes. This also minimizes family property disputes and helps to maintain harmony and peace among family members.