In a previous post, we understood the importance of a Will by discussing what happens if you don’t write a Will.
Many of you asked how to write a Will in a simple manner. So, in this post, we will share a step-by-step guide to writing a Will and discuss how to make your Will challenge-proof.
Estimated read time: 3 minutes and 12 seconds
Buckle up. Here we go!
Before we dive in, it’s crucial to grasp the fundamentals.
A Will is a legal document that outlines how your assets (like property, money, investments, or even sentimental items) should be distributed after your demise. If you pass away without a Will (intestate), the law takes over, and your assets may not end up where you intended.
A step-by-step guide to writing a Will
Step 1: List your assets
Begin by creating a comprehensive list of all your assets. Include your bank accounts, properties, investments, jewellery, and any other valuable possessions. This list serves as the foundation of your Will.
Step 2: Appoint an executor
Choose a trustworthy executor who will ensure your wishes are carried out. This person should be organized and responsible. It could be a family member, friend, or a legal professional. Discuss your decision with them beforehand to ensure they’re willing to take on this role.
Step 3: Decide on beneficiaries
Determine who will inherit your assets. Be specific and clear about who gets what. You can distribute your assets among family members, friends, charities, or even your favourite pet. It’s entirely up to you.
Step 4: Drafting the Will
Now comes the actual writing part. You can either write your Will by hand or type it out (digital signatures are invalid).
Remember, there is no strict requirement regarding the format in which the Will should be written. It is completely open to you to craft your Will as you may choose to do.
Here’s a simple template you can follow:
I, [Your Name], residing at [Your Address], being of sound mind and free will, do hereby declare this to be my Last Will and Testament.
- Executor: Appoint the executor’s name here.
- Beneficiaries: List the beneficiaries and specify what each one will receive.
- Debts and Taxes: Mention how any outstanding debts and taxes should be settled using your assets.
- Guardianship: If you have minor children, name their legal guardians here.
- Witnesses: Sign the Will in the presence of at least two adult witnesses who are not beneficiaries.
Step 5: Signing and witnessing
This part is critical. Sign your Will at the end in front of your chosen witnesses. They must also sign the document, confirming they witnessed you signing it. Make sure they are not beneficiaries in your Will.
Step 6: Safekeeping
Keep your Will in a safe place, preferably in a fireproof and waterproof container. Inform your executor about its location, and consider storing a copy with your lawyer or at the registrar’s office.
Step 7: Regular updates
Life changes, and so should your Will. Review and update it whenever significant events occur, like marriage, divorce, birth, or death in the family, or when you acquire new assets.
How to make your Will challenge-proof?
Now, let’s talk about making your Will as solid as a rock in India, minimizing the chances of it being challenged:
1. Be of sound mind
Ensure you are of sound mind and not under any duress or influence when drafting your Will. It’s vital to show that your decisions are made willingly. By having a doctor certify your sound mind and body on the day you sign the Will, and the physician acts as a witness, this major challenge can be mitigated.
2. Clear and specific language
Use straightforward language in your Will, leaving no room for ambiguity. Avoid vague terms that might lead to disputes.
3. Witness selection
Choose witnesses who are impartial and unrelated to the beneficiaries. Their role is crucial in validating the authenticity of your Will. One witness can be your doctor, and the second witness can be a lawyer. This way, you can have an entirely independent set of witnesses.
4. No forced inclusion
Do not include beneficiaries under duress or coercion. Everyone mentioned in your Will should genuinely be your choice.
5. Legal advice
Consider consulting with a lawyer experienced in estate planning to ensure your Will complies with Indian laws and regulations.
While not mandatory, registering your Will with the local registrar’s office adds an extra layer of authenticity and makes it harder to contest.
7. Video recording
For added security, you can even create a video recording of yourself explaining the contents of your Will, reaffirming your decision and state of mind.
In a nutshell, writing a Will isn’t rocket science. It’s a crucial step in ensuring your assets go where you want them to.
By following these simple steps and keeping your Will challenge-proof, you can provide peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones, even after you’re gone. So, get started today – it’s an act of love and responsibility towards your family and your legacy.
Share these insights with your buddies. Until next time!
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