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Home / Money / Personal Finance /  A Will is critical in financial planning

Financial planning does not necessarily end once you invest your money. It also extends to securing assets for your family. Succession planning by creating a will is very important: it allows you to make provision for matters involving the future security of your dear ones. A will typically helps you decide who should gain access to your inheritance and in what manner, and so on. It also reduces the chances of any future disputes among family members. 

Hence, proper succession planning by making a will can help you distribute your wealth equitably among family members as per your wish. 

Sreepriya NS, director and COO of Entrust Family Office, said, “A will is considered one of the most sought-after legal documents for succession and estate planning. A will is a lawfully binding document that specifies the wishes and intentions of a person concerning the distribution of their wealth and assets after their demise. A carefully drafted will can help to facilitate the smooth transfer of a person’s wealth and assets to intended heirs." 

Why make a will: None of us wants to think of our mortality, but like Benjamin Franklin said, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes". So, should creating a will be a part of our resolutions now that the pandemic has made us acutely aware of the uncertainty about life?

Will, as the word suggests, simply means my wishes that should be carried out upon my death. Though it has mainly to do with transfer of financial assets, a will may include last rite wishes, gratitude towards friends/family, and reflections upon your life. There are many reasons why you should create a will. 

Adhil Shetty, CEO of BankBazaar.com, said, “Succession planning must be a continuous process and not a panic-stricken exercise over a sudden development like the covid-19 outbreak. For instance, you may wish to start a trust for your children. You may want to donate a part of your assets to a charity. You may want to donate your body to the medical college. These require careful planning and legal legwork. So making a will should not be left till the last moment."

 Typically, creating a will helps avoid the court’s involvement in deciding on permissible succession and asset transfer upon your demise, along with other delays, issues, and costs involved in the process. Moreover, non-residents, who have assets in India, should certainly plan a will for their Indian assets to save inheritance taxes in the country of their residence. 

Anup Bansal, chief investment officer of Scripbox, said that if someone dies without leaving a will, it can mean that they did not prioritise this financial activity or really view how assets should get transferred in the event of their deaths. The technical term for this is called dying intestate, and you end up giving control to the law for dividing your assets. In this situation, the succession acts apply (as per your religion), and there is a possibility of legal disputes if the inheritors are not in agreement. “I don’t think any of us would want to leave a legacy where our progenies are fighting over what we painstakingly built during our lifetime. Besides, we would let someone else control our wishes, and the ultimate result may be something that we never wanted," Bansal said. 

How to prepare a will: A will can be as detailed as you like it. There are online templates available for creating a will. You may use a suitable template to document your wishes, have an executor, get the will signed by two witnesses and sign all the pages on a said date. This way, a simple declaration on paper of naming your heir, as witnessed by two people, can suffice. On the other hand, you can include all the details of your holdings and their distribution in your will. Both are equally valid. However, a detailed will would ideally contain the list of all your assets, including movable and immovable properties, investments, cash, and other assets, and details of how they are to be passed on. Having a will can also help your family from missing out on the actual wealth you want them to possess after your demise. 

Bansal said, “It is crucial to attach a doctor’s certificate stating that you are in a sound mind when making the will to avoid any contest. Registering a will is not required but may add extra security. It ensures authenticity and reduces the chances of tampering and theft. So, make a will as part of your financial resolution and leave a legacy that you and the people left behind will cherish forever." 

Besides, you must know that you can create a will any number of times. But the latest will signed and witnessed is considered for asset transfers, and all previously drafted wills get cancelled in the eyes of the law. Shetty said, “If you have a lot of inherited property or a complex line of inheritance, you may take legal help to clarify what can and cannot be included in your will to reduce the chances of a legal dispute later. However, remember that modifying a registered will is cumbersome, and it is advisable to write a will once you are sure you wouldn’t alter it in the future."

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