I have made my own Will as per the approved format with two witnesses. The beneficiary is my wife. If she dies before my death, my only son will be sole beneficiary. I have acquired the following assets from my own tax-paid income:
a) One 2-bedroom, hall, kitchen apartment of 1,005 sq. ft in Mumbai
b) One savings bank account and some fixed deposits (FDs)
c) Furniture and fixtures and some literature books
d) A life insurance policy in my name with my wife as the nominee.
My chartered accountant has been named as the executor of my Will. Do I need to register my Will, and what are the charges for registration?
I have assumed that you are governed by Hindu personal law.
Registration of a Will is not compulsory, even if it comprises of immovable property. However, in case you want to register it, you may do so with the applicable registrar or sub-registrar of assurances (where you reside).
The procedure for depositing a Will with the applicable registrar is contained in Sections 42-45 of the Registration Act, 1908.
For the purpose of registering a Will, the testator may, either personally or through a duly authorised agent, deposit the Will with the registrar in a sealed cover superscribed with the name of the testator and that of his agent (if any) and with a statement of the nature of the document.
On receiving the cover, the registrar, if satisfied that the person presenting the same for deposit is the testator or his agent, shall transcribe in his register the superscription, along with the year, month, day and hour of such presentation and receipt, and the names of any persons who may testify to the identity of the testator or his agent.
If the testator wishes to subsequently withdraw the Will, he may apply, either personally or by duly authorised agent, to the Registrar who holds it in deposit, and the Registrar, if satisfied that the applicant is actually the testator or his agent, shall deliver the cover accordingly.
Following the death of a testator who has registered his Will, an application may be made to the registrar who holds it in deposit to open the cover.
While registration does not conclusively prove the genuineness of a Will, it provides evidence that the proper parties (testator and witness) had appeared before the registering officer and the latter had registered the Will after ascertaining their identity.
Once a Will is registered, the original is placed in the custody of the registrar, and therefore it is relatively safe, cannot be tampered with, mutilated, destroyed or stolen.
If at any time later, you wish to modify any clauses or revoke the Will that has been registered and you choose to do so through a codicil or by executing another Will, then we recommend that the codicil or the new Will also be registered with the registrar. If the earlier registered Will is being replaced by a new Will, then an application should be made to the registrar to obtain the earlier Will.
Please note that though a Will does not attract stamp duty, a nominal fee is payable for registration. The registration fee may differ from state to state. In Mumbai, for example, it is about Rs500.
Also, please note that certain states may, for administrative purposes, require some additional documents such as passport size photographs of the testator or witnesses and a medical certificate from a doctor certifying that the testator is mentally fit.
Marylou Bilawala is partner, Wadia Ghandy & Co. Advocates, Solicitors and Notaries.
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