I have made a will but now wish to make certain changes with respect to the persons to whom I want to bequeath my property and also with respect to some of the property that I want to bequeath. Do I have to cancel or destroy the original will and make a fresh will?

—Kunal Desai

If you are not amending the will entirely (which means all the legatees and bequests will not be changing but only some), it will not be necessary to revoke the original will and draw up a fresh will. The amendments can be made by way of a codicil.

A codicil is an instrument made in relation to a will, which explains, alters or adds to what is contained in the will and which is deemed to be part of the will. The effect of a codicil is to bring the will down to the date of the codicil and to effect the same disposition of the testator’s property as would have been effected if the testator had, at the date of the codicil, made a new will containing the same disposition as in the original will with the alteration introduced by the codicil.

However, it is important to note that all the provisions required to give effect to a valid will also apply to codicils. These provisions are that the will must be signed by the person making the will (testator) or his mark must be affixed thereto or signed by a person as directed by the testator and in the presence of the testator; the will must also be signed by at least two witnesses, each of whom has seen testator sign the will or affix his mark or seen some other person sign the will in the presence of the testator.

My uncle, a Hindu with no children, made a will wherein he bequeathed certain properties to my brother and me jointly. My brother died during my uncle’s lifetime. Do I still stand to inherit the properties that my uncle had bequeathed to us jointly?

—Pranay Shah

As per section 106 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925, if a bequest is made to two persons (legatees) jointly and one of the legatees dies during the testator’s lifetime, the other legatee will take the whole of the bequest. Therefore, you will inherit and can rightfully claim the entire property that your uncle had bequeathed to you and your brother, and not just the share that you would have inherited if your brother had been alive when the bequest was to take effect.

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