Why it’s essential to make a Will4 min read . Updated: 14 Jan 2019, 10:29 AM IST
A Will is a legal instrument that clearly states to whom the assets will be passed on
Making a Will can mitigate the risk of the assets you build over a lifetime running into disputes. It can also smoothen the process of transfer of the assets to your loved ones. Experts tell us why it’s important to make a Will.
Financial planning incomplete if you haven’t planned succession
Gaurav Mashruwala, Certified financial planner and founder, Gauravmashruwala.com
Having a Will is very important. We suggest all our clients to compulsorily go for a Will. There are three stages of financial planning—protecting your existing wealth, accumulating it and distributing it. If you miss any of these, your planning will remain incomplete.
Suppose I don’t take protection and don’t have a health insurance or life insurance, and straightaway start investing. Then if I fall ill, whatever I have accumulated will get eroded. If I only protect and accumulate, but don’t make a Will, then my family may end up in a dispute. Similarly, if I only protect and don’t accumulate, what will I distribute after retirement? So, all three are parts that are indispensable, so if you are following financial planning, Will is very important.
Besides, from the transmission perspective, remember that your entire legacy has to go to somebody and what you want to ensure is that the entire legacy with least leakage should go to your loved ones. If a Will is not there, the planner will earn something, the lawyer will earn something, and then there are government levy and taxes and the family gets the remaining. So to ensure that there should be least leakage, make a Will.
I would also suggest that one should involve a financial planner while making a Will; lawyers know the law they can make brilliant draft, but financial planners know the characteristic of each asset and the way they should be bequeathed.
It’s a legal document that protects interests of family
Rajesh Narain Gupta, Managing partner, SNG & Partners
If a person dies intestate (without a Will), her legal heirs are recognised as successors to her estate, as per respective personal laws. In the absence of a Will, the estate may be passed on to a relative whom the deceased did not wish to give anything. Lack of a Will also presents a disorderly situation where no one is aware of the deceased’s liabilities, his financial interests and/or his asset possessions. Key documents and assets remain untraced many a times. Legal heirs of a deceased account holder may remain untraced and deposits may remain idle in unclaimed accounts.
A Will is a legal instrument that protects a family by recording the details of assets owned by a person, its location and the relevant documents, and clearly states to whom the assets will be passed on. A Will results in smooth transfer of assets to intended beneficiaries and ensures minimal or no loss of assets. The making of a Will also protects the beneficiaries and spells out the manner and extent to which the assets will be transferred to the parents, wife and children and any other person by the deceased. Will makes asset transfer a smooth process from one generation to another and is an instrument for asset protection.
Distribution may be difficult in the absence of a Will
Namita Agarwal, Assistant vice-president, succession planning, Emkay Wealth Management
Having a Will would ensure that the assets are distributed in a smooth manner as decided and it would eliminate any kind of disputes among the legal heirs for distribution of these assets. So if the deceased left a Will, then the executor, who needs to be appointed by the person making the Will, needs to first get the Will probated, if required by the state laws where the deceased resided or owned property. A Will would generally list down all the assets of the deceased and specify how the assets are to be distributed among family members. The executor shall contact the financial institutions, banks, insurance companies, housing societies along with the death certificate, Will and other supporting documents to get the assets transferred in the name of legal heirs mentioned in the Will.
In the absence of a Will, the family members should firstly consolidate the assets of the deceased. It would be prudent to contact the financial advisor of the deceased who may have knowledge about the financial holdings. The legal heirs will need to obtain a succession certificate from the court and then contact the banks, financial institutions etc. for transferring the assets to the legal heirs as per applicable religious laws. This is accompanied by other supporting documents such as death certificate, affidavit, indemnity bond, no objection/release deed from other legal heirs (in case a legal heir wants to release his share in a particular asset in favour of others). If nominations have been made, then it would be easier. The nominee can collect the assets and then distribute it to the legal heirs as per the laws of succession. Before distributing the assets, the debts of the deceased shall be paid off.
Consult a lawyer who can guide you through the process, help prepare documents and advise on distribution of assets as per succession laws.