What am I?
I am a piece of paper on which you write down details about your assets and wealth that you have accumulated during your lifetime and how you want them to be distributed after your death. I am simply a record of all your assets and their fate after you die.
How am I made?
There are some prerequisites you need to remember while making me. For instance, I have to be signed by you and two witnesses on each page in the presence of each other. It is a good practice to mention how many pages I run into. If I am not your first will, then refer to the existence of previous wills and declare them as null and void to avoid any confusion that may arise later. Also, it is advisable to destroy previous wills. When you write me, it is also important to have a miscellaneous clause mentioning who gets to keep assets that you may have forgotten to assign, or acquired after I was made. Don’t forget to appoint a neutral party as an executor. He will ensure that the directions in the will are carried out according to your wishes.
Do you need to register me?
You can register me at the office of the local sub registrar. However, it is not compulsory to register me. In fact, if there are more than one wills, the distribution of assets is done according to the most recent one, even if it is not registered unlike the previous ones. If you register a will through a lawyer, or another professional and name him the executor, the advantage is that you will get a neutral executor, who is not likely to have an interest in your assets.
Why do you need me?
I will ensure that, at least, simple conflicts arising among your legal heirs because of a difference of opinion, or lack of clarity, can be avoided. Similarly, even if you have nominees for all your assets, you will still need me. In legal terms, the nominee is not the beneficiary but only a trustee or a guardian to the funds till the legal beneficiary can be determined. So having nominations, does not do away with the need for me. It is best if you write me in such a way that I reflect your nominations.
Do I need to go through a probate?
A simple will does not need to go through a probate, i.e. the process by which the court establishes my authenticity if I am not contested by anybody. However, in some states in India, a probate is compulsory. Also, in some states a probate is compulsory if you plan to bequeath immovable property through me.