Home / Money / Personal Finance /  Estate planning: What is a will?

A will is a written and expressed document about how assets that are left behind after the passing away of an individual should be distributed, to whom and in what quantity and manner.

“It is one of the most casually written among documents, which is most callous, especially as its one of the most difficult documents to prove since it is proven only post the demise of the author who is not there to state his intentions," Bijal, Partner, Khaitan & Co said.

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Thus, a will is a must-have document for any person irrespective of the quantum of assets he has and can easily be amended by way of a codicil. When you make a will, it needs to be signed by you in the presence of two witnesses. Bijal said, “It is always preferable from an administrative perspective to have different wills for each jurisdiction rather than one global will. Registration of a will is not compulsory."

Bijal further said, "Modern wills are often video-graphed so that the videography can be used as evidence concerning the fact that the author did sign the will, if a claim is made otherwise. This has been a useful tool and has also been accepted in court matters."

Benefits of having a will

If you don’t make a will, all your hard-earned money can go to the benefit of no one.

Santosh Joseph, CEO and Founder, Germinate Investor Services LLP said, “Firstly, a will protects your family and provides complete clarity on how you would like your assets to be handled and distributed. Secondly, in the absence of a will, one will get into the respective ‘Succession Act’ that is usually contested and it typically is a long process. When someone dies without a will, it means you have died intestate. When this happens, the intestacy laws will apply based on your jurisdiction."

"These laws of intestate succession vary greatly depending on whether you were single or married or had children. A will helps in avoiding any lengthy processes and delay in the distribution of your assets. Having a will ease the way for beneficiaries to get easier access to assets of the person who is no more. Lastly, a well-drafted will also help avoid any internal disputes within the family."

Unfortunately, the concept of will planning is seen as something relevant only for the old. "This is not the right way to go about it. A will is for the young and old. The earlier you plan your will, the better it is. You can also modify or update your will as and when you acquire new assets," said Joseph.

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