I am writing a will! If you hear this from anyone around you many thoughts come in your mind. Like why he/she is writing a will? Is there any dispute in his/her family? Or is he/she is not well and is to demise in near future? And most important what will be there in the will? Most of us are unaware about benefits and usefulness of having a will. Writing a will many a times sounds weird as it is something related to your own demise. But the fact is, writing a will not only helps your heir, it also give you a peace of mind that your assets will go in the right hands at the right time. But writing a will is not enough! There are certain things which you should think before you write your will.
Top 8 Things to Consider Before Writing Your Will
- Understanding What is a Will?
Basically a will is a legal document in which one define who shall get what in terms of assets and property, shares, finances etc. It can be both either built by them or even which are inherited after their demise. The one who writes the will is known as ‘Testator’. The testator has the authority to appoint a person as an ‘Executor’ to manage estate after their demise. The first step to write a will is first to list down all the assets which belong to you including fixed as well as movable. The second step is to list down the beneficiaries to whom you want to allocate your assets.
A will can also include a declaration like whom you wish to become guardian for your minor children or dependents one’s in case if any. And whom you want to give specific items that you own after you.
Some kind of property such as some insurance policies and retirement accounts aren’t mostly covered by a will.
- Is a Lawyer needed to Prepare a Will?
It is not mandatory to have a lawyer for writing a will. However, an advice from a professional can help you prepare the will in a better way.
NOTE- In India, if a will is written on a piece of paper and signed by two witnesses then it is considered as a valid one. Nowadays various online portals are available from which you can take help and write your will.
- Who Should be a Witness to a Will?
It is to be ensured that the witness to your will should be a trustworthy person. Another important point that should be taken care off is – the witness should not be a beneficiary, this is important to avoid the conflict of interest.
In India there is no need to notarize a will and thus there is no need to notarize the signatures of the witnesses as well.
- How Often a Will Should be Updated?
It is suggested to update or review your will once in a two or three years. But mostly it should be done when you purchase an asset or a property. It is suggested because assets are mostly expensive and if it is not listed in your will it can become a cause of dispute among your heirs.
- What Happens If One Dies Without Writing a Will?
If one dies without writing a will, in that case the legal heirs have to face many difficulty to claim their rightful over the assets. The heirs will need to prove themselves in the court as they are the rightful owners of the left behind belongings and assets.
It is also a fact that ‘Absence of Will’ may also lead to an unnecessary quarrels and disputes among the legal heirs. If this happens it becomes even more difficult and the court might have to appoint an administrator who will work in the capacity of the executor.
- Where should One keep his/her Will?
A probate court requires the original will to process your estate. Hence, it becomes important to keep will and other documents safely and yet accessible. In case you keep your will in a bank’s locker box then it that case, it will be only you who will have the access to it. Neither your family nor your close ones will be able to get that when needed. Because of all these reasons it is suggest to keep your will safely in home itself.
However it is suggested to keep an attorney. The attorney should be someone you trust to keep the signed copies of your will in case the original one is destroyed or lost. However, in the absence of original one, entire thing will become complicated.
- Who Can Contest a Will?
Contesting a will means challenging the legal validity of all or part of your will. A beneficiary who is not happy and feels slighted by the terms of a will might choose to contest it once. It can be your spouse, ex- spouse or even your children anyone you feels so can contest your will.
- Does Joint Property falls Outside the Will?
There are certain properties such as real estate and bank accounts which are shared by spouses or parents in some case. In such a case these properties wouldn’t come under one personal will. Rather it will automatically passed to the surviving owner/ partner by operation of the law. However, if there is an account just under one person’s name, it will be passed through a will.
First and the most important you must be “sound mind” before you write your will.
This means you should have a clear understanding of the following-
- What is a will?
- Who are your beneficiaries?
- List of properties owned by you.
- How to distribute your asset among your beneficiaries?
Second, important thing is that life insurance policy (or policies), and retirement policy (or policies) don’t have beneficiaries, so don’t include it in your will. Having a will is very important, so write a will if you haven’t already!