Where there is a will there is peace
“When should one make his or her will?” A lawyer asked this question
to the packed auditorium. Pat came the replies like: ‘why do I
need a will?’, ‘as soon as possible’, ‘after retirement’,
‘after one’s marriage’. To this, the lawyer replied, “One must
make a will at least one day before he or she is about to
die.” And the crowd burst out laughing and had also understood
the point the eminent speaker was making.
During one’s working life majority of us focus on fulfilling
dreams of career, business or profession, dreams of having a
family, dreams of owning a home etc. Initial years are full of
energy, desire and about achieving goals. Fuel to this energy
comes from gratification and many a times gratification comes
from spending. During this period Savings and Investments
normally take a back seat. Investment starts with small
savings for home, marriage and future uncertainties.
Over a longer periodperiod, these savings start getting
converted into Wealth. Need for preservation arises when goals
are in the process of completion or have been achieved.
Preservation as the word denotes is to protect what has
already been created. Thus Kknowingly or unknowingly we all go
through these two stages of wealth creation and preservation.
HoweverHowever, a lot of us tend to forget or assume the most
important third step i.e. of tTransmission. In At this stage
even though one is not looking at excessive returns with high
volatility, he is still expecting to generate better than
inflation returns and keep his wealth intact with over time.
Preservation involves more of discussing and making small
changes to portfolio that already exists and taking care of
changing needs without taking excessive risk. The third step
that completes the Wealth management is Wealth Transmission.
Without having this step covered Wealth Management remains
Why is Wealth Transmission so important? Are we ready to
discuss this step openly with the spouse and children? and
spouse? Does it require an in-depth understanding of law?
These are some questions that we must find answers to.
Transmission is important because it takes years or even
decades to create and preserve wealth but the same wealth can
get lost or reduced if it is not transmitted the way its
creator desired. It is imperative that an individual pays even
more attention to this third step. Dissolution is certain in
life but what is uncertain is its time. And because this time
is uncertain one needs to get prepared.
Simplistically, Wealth can be transmitted by a simple will. A
will is an important document that enables an individual to
rightfully distribute his assets and wealth to whomsoever he
wants to after his death. In this way, a person can ensure
that his wishes are carried out with regards to distribution
of his assets. All assets need to be mentioned that are owned
by creator need to be mentioned. Not only it isis it the right
way to transmit, it is the most economical way as well.
In case a will is not made, post dissolution the transfer of
assets is subject to state court fees and inheritance laws.
For example, to get a succession certificate in Mumbai,
individuals have to pay court fees of fixed amount say Rs.
75,000/- or 0.75% of Assets whichever is lower where as in New
Delhi court fees can be as high as 2 - 3% of Assets. This fee
needs to be deposited in court as liquid money which in itself
can be a big sum depending upon the total assets that heirs
are looking at transferring. Legal fees and other costs
associated with court proceedings are additional.
Post amendment in 2005 to the Hindu Succession Act 1956,
married daughters are also equally entitled to parent’s
assets. Take an example where there are 2 married daughters
and an unmarried Son. If the testator (creator of will) dies
intestate (without writing a will) his property would get
equally divided between 3 children. Now consider a situation
where the above daughters do not want their share as they are
well settled and want the brother to get all property and
other movable assets, even this can create complexity if
daughter’s In-laws desire differently. This leads to
unnecessary complications in relations and can convert best of
relations into sour ones.
A Probate (Certificate under the seal of the court and signed
by one of the registrars, certifying that the will has been
proved) is required in Jurisdiction of Mumbai, Chennai and
Kolkata high court. Under other court jurisdictions Probate is
not compulsory and wishes of testator directly can be
exercised as per will by the executor.
It does require good understanding of Inheritance laws but at
the same time there are services available that individuals
can take. It takes an experienced estate planning lawyer to
evaluate individual’s particular situation and advise him/her
of the options that best suit individual’s estate planning
needs and goals. Companies like Universal Trustees,
willeffect.in etc can bridge this gap. Individuals can get
customized solutions for by paying a small fee.
Important Steps to be followed for making a will
Step 1: Drafting a will
While preparing a will it is essential to take extra
precautions. One wrong word or missing signature can change
the entire intent of a will. Getting a will drafted with the
help of lawyer can help you avoid costly mistakes.
Step 2: Attestation of a will
Once the will is drafted, the testator (the person who is
making the will) needs to sign or affix his mark to the will.
The signature or mark of the testator should appear clearly
and should be legible. It should appear in a manner that is
appropriate and makes the will legal. A will should be
attested by two or more witnesses, each of whom has seen the
testator signing or affixing his mark on the will. Each of the
witnesses should sign the will in the presence of a the
testator. A witness need not read the contents of the will
before signing it.
Step 3: Registration (Under section 18 of The Registration
Act, 1908, the registration of a will is optional)
However, registering a will gives you strong legal evidence
that the proper parties had appeared before registering
officers and the latter had attested the same after
ascertaining their identity.
- A will must be proved as duly and validly executed as
required by the Indian Succession Act.
- Once a will is registered, it is placed in the safe custody
of Registrar and therefore cannot be tampered with, destroyed,
mutilated or stolen.
- It shall be released only to the testator himself or, after
his death, to an authorized person who produces the Death
- The cover should be super scribed with the name of the
testator or his agent with a statement of the nature of the
Procedure for registering a will:
A will is to be registered with the registrar / sub –
registrar with a nominal registration fee. The testator must
be personally present at the registrar’s office along with
A will does not require stamping.
All of above only applies to wills and codicils made by
Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs or Jains.
Deepak Jaggi is currently working as Executive Director and
Head - Retail Sales in DHFL Pramerica Asset Managers Private
Limited. Deepak has over 2 decades of experience in Sales &
Distribution of Financial Products including organizations
like HDFC Standard Life Insurance, Kotak Life Insurance and
Zurich Asset Management.