People are always afraid of death and they want to live forever. Many times, an individual is scared or worried by thinking about what will happen to their loved ones after they die. They want to set everything right before they exit the world, so that they can ensure that things can be the way they want. And this is what a will helps them achieve.
A will is a legal document that an individual makes with respect to their wish of how their property should be distributed and various other things to take place after they die. It’s a legal document that sets forth one’s wishes regarding the distribution of property and the care of any minor children. The one who makes the will is called a testator.
In India, anyone above 21 years of age is allowed to make a will. Features of a will are as follows:
- When a person makes a will, it is important for them to have a stable mind.
- A will must be voluntary because an enforced will cannot be considered valid.
- A will must be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses who shouldn’t have any personal interest or benefit from the will.
- A will can be modified and changed as it is a fluid document i.e. it comes into effect only after a person dies.
The Importance of A Will
- It helps you to plan the future in your absence
- It will help you to
- distribute your wealth as per your wish
- name a guardian for your children and their property
- create a trust for your beneficiaries
- settle your financial matters, if any (for instance, if you have to take or give money to somebody, a will can help your family to do so)
- Wills give you control: In the absence of a will, the decisions surrounding all your property and financial decisions will be taken by the court. After one dies, these legal processes are taken care of by the court or as per the legal procedure of the country. But when you have a will in place, you can decide things for yourself and prevent letting the major decision-making authority in the hands of unknown people.
- Wills mitigate family conflicts: When a will is made, family members come to know how that individual wanted to distribute their wealth and property. This helps avoid conflict and any type of speculation among family members and other people. Thus, this prevents any further legal battles among family members over the property and wealth of an individual.
- Wills help you make decisions: Many times, people want to distribute their property differently. That is, an individual apart from leaving the property for family members might also want to distribute their wealth by leaving gifts for friends, donating to charitable trusts, leaving the property for pets and so on. But in the absence of a will, the law might end up giving your wealth to your legal successors. Thus, it is important for you to be in charge of the distribution of your assets and not the law.
- Wills reduce probate process time: Probate refers to analyzing and transferring one’s property after the person dies. When you have a will in place, this process becomes less time-consuming and easy.
- Will help you to appoint an executor: Appointing a trustworthy executor can make things easier for you. An executor can be a non-family member too. They will not only settle all your remaining transactions like paying your debtors or paying your taxes, but also will inform your bank and creditors about your expiry. An executor can monitor the probate process as well.
- Wills allow you to choose your children's guardian in your absence: When you appoint a guardian for your minor children in your will, you are assured that your children are in safe hands. This helps you to secure their future in your absence. But in the absence of a will, the guardian appointed by the court may or may not be appropriate for your children.
- Wills help to choose your business successor: A will helps you to pass on your business if any, to the right people and in safe hands.
- Wills save legal expenses: In the absence of a will, heirs need to go through legal procedures for legally distributing the wealth and thus, settle all matters after the person dies. This will include legal costs for getting the legal procedure executed. But when a will is made, things get sorted and clearer to execute, as per the testator's wish. This saves legal expenses.
- Wills give you peace of mind: An individual works hard throughout their life to create property or wealth. A will gives them the authority to distribute it as per their wish. Thus, an individual is at peace by leaving behind their hard-earned money or property for the people they wanted to own it.
So, it is important to note down your wishes when you are alive in order for them to be fulfilled when you are no longer alive. And a will makes that possible for you.