I had shared few thoughts on Estate Planning in my last blog. In my today’s blog, I will be sharing my thoughts on why in India majority of the people avoid talking about Will and the importance of Will. The thoughts on why people avoid writing a Will is based on my interactions with people as Estate Planner and my professional experience over the last 6 years as a Estate Planner.
Why majority of the people in India do not have Will?
While majority of the people we talk to acknowledge the importance of having a Will but still an overwhelming majority of people in India does not have written their Will. The major reason why people procrastinate writing their Will are:
- I am still young and I am not going to Die tomorrow
- I have not yet decided who in my family should get what share and which asset
- Misconceptions like
- I have nominees in my bank account (s) then why I need a Will
- I have all my accounts as joint account with either or survivor clause so my spouse will inherit all my accounts automatically
- I have very little wealth, Will is only for super rich
- What if tomorrow my circumstances change and I have named beneficiaries then either it will not be possible to change them or it will become a very cumbersome process.
- We have instilled lot of values in my children, there will be no dispute in my family and they will continue to own all the assets jointly.
- My wife will automatically inherit all my assets why I need to write a Will
- If a write a Will it will create unnecessary fissures in my family if my children come to know who will inherit what
- It is still a Taboo in India to talk about death among family members
- It is not socially acceptable in India that children talk about inheritance with their parents
- People avoid talking to their spouse about Will as they are not sure either about the reaction from the spouse
- I do not know who can help me write the Will? I do not have a lawyer who can write a Will for me
- I do not want to disclose my assets to outsiders
Why it is important to have a Will:
If the person does not have a Will at the time of his/her death then he/she is considered to have died Intestate. In case of Intestate death his/her assets will be distributed as per the applicable Succession Act. In India there are multiple Succession Acts like Hindu Succession Act, Indian succession Act, Sharia Law, Forced Heir ship rules as per Goan Civil Code (applicable to people living in Goa or married in Goa) etc. Then there are regional peculiarities for inheriting real estate for People belonging to Jammu &Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh etc.
Therefore, if one wants to distribute the assets as per his/her wish or to prevent future conflict within family members on inheritance it is important to write one’s Will. Also if one wants to avoid the complication of minor children inheriting the wealth, especially real estate then it is important to write a Will.
Will helps in smooth inheritance and prevents the family from undergoing avoidable hardship and hassle in inheriting the assets.
Who can write a Will: Any person of the age of majority who is of sound mind can write a Will. Further the Will should not be written under any coercion or threat.
In India a Will can be written on any piece of paper and can be written (drafted) by anyone even if one is not a lawyer. In Many countries like UK, USA, Singapore etc anyone drafting a Will has to have a license from a competent authority and must undergo certification before one can become eligible to draft a Will.
What are essential components of a Will:
- Name of the “Testator” of the Will
- Date and place where the Will is being written
- Two witnesses
- Testator & witnesses need to sign the Will
- Details of the assets which “Testator” wants to transmit to his Legal Heirs
- Name of the beneficiaries (people who will get the assets)
- Details pertaining to share of all the beneficiary
- Name of a person (s) who will be the executor of the Will