More than 70-75% of the older adults in India make their own wills. Making a will is very important, not only because it assures proper distribution of your wealth but also ensures that your heirs benefit without unnecessary disputes.
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document that allows you to distribute your property according to your wishes and take care of other matters like care of minor children after your death. If you pass away without a will (intestate), how your property or financial issues are managed is not in your hands. Your heirs will also be forced to spend additional time and energy trying to figure out your affairs. This might cause them considerable emotional trauma as well.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is a bit more complicated than a will. It uses various documents to help you secure your assets after your death. A will is a part of your estate plan. In an estate plan, you can include your living will as well, i.e. your arrangements while you are living but unable to speak or move. An estate plan, in other words, is more detailed and comprehensive. It is especially useful if you have had more than one marriage, run a business, have various forms of savings, wish to donate some part of your funds to charity, wish to assign your wealth to someone else other than your heirs, or wish your wealth to be distributed in a specific manner.
How to Make a Will?
Making a will is very simple. You could simply write your wish on a piece of paper and that could be your will. But if you wish to avoid further arguments and litigations among your heirs, you must get it registered at a sub-registrar office. You will need a doctor’s certificate stating that you are in good mental and physical health. Apart from this, you will need signatures from two witnesses, preferably those who are not going to benefit from your will. You must get all these documents along with the property documents mentioned in the will.
Talk to your family lawyer to understand the nuances of estate planning. The more meticulous you are, the lesser your loved ones will face issues while understanding and distributing your assets.
When Should I Start Planning For My Will?
It is never too early to start planning for your will. With high-stress levels in recent times, experts recommend you to start making your will as early as your 20s. The first step before making a will is taking stock of all your assets, both moveable and immovable. These include your savings, retirement funds, insurance policies, real estate, business investments and items of value that could be both financial and emotional. In other words, you could make specific requests for antique items or your favourite dinner set as well.
Next, you must decide what you want to do with those assets and who you want to inherit them. If you have a business, you should also think about whom you would like to hand it over to if you are unable to manage it any longer. You must include clauses about medical care if you need it.
Before you make a formal will, it is a good idea to discuss it with your heirs regarding the inheritance you have planned. This will help clarify matters and reduce disagreements between them after your death.
Watch Advocate Eknath Sugaonkar talk all about making a will in Marathi.
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