Dying unWILLingly !

Recently I began a new journey as an independent financial advisor.

In a very short span of time, we have been able to get a fairly decent number of clients. However, there is one thing that is striking amongst most of these clients is the absence of Will. The reasons behind it seems to be

1. Will is important but not urgent
2. Lack of understanding of consequences faced by heirs in the absence of a Will

You work hard in building wealth that would help you meet your goals, retirement and gift for your heirs. However, you wouldn’t know the trouble they will face in inheriting your assets in the absence of a Will. Most of us today have several investments/claims that could be transmitted to heirs. These include real estate, mutual funds, shares, bonds, PPF, EPF, Gratuity, Bank deposits, life insurance etc.

Nomination is not transfer of ownership

For most Indians Real Estate is the biggest part of their wealth. Most of us dutifully nominate a family member (or members) in the society records so that the property is transferred to them.
The new amendment (October 2018) in co-operative act makes it amply clear that nomination can only help you becoming a “Provisional Member” in a co-operative housing society. Some societies may transfer the share certificate in the nominee’s name. However, the government revenue record needs to be updated and that cannot be done without a Will or govt issued heir certificate. For independent houses (not part of a cooperative society), the facility of nomination itself is not available.

Mutual Fund, PPF, EPF etc may also need succession certificate to transfer the wealth ,despite having nominee(s), in the absence of a Will. You would need heirship certificate / succession certificate to ensure that property and other assets are transferred to the rightful heir.

Legal Heir certificate can be obtained by approaching the area/taluk Tahsildar, or from the corporation/municipality office of the respective area or  from the district civil court. Succession certificate is issued by a civil court and the fees is dependent on the value of the assets. This can go up to Rs. 75,000 in Maharashtra. One may also need the help of a lawyer for getting these documents. The whole process can take a considerable amount of time and money, making life of the heir anxious during this trying period.

In addition to the hassles involved in getting these govt certificates and transmission of the assets, the absence of a Will, may lead to unpleasantness amongst the family members on their share of the assets

All these can be easily avoided if you prepare a Will.

A Will needs to be signed by you in the presence of 2 witnesses. You could do this in front of a notary or a registrar (if you would like to register your will). It would be good to add a doctor’s certificate authenticating that you are in a healthy mental condition.

You can change your Will any number of times and the latest Will will be valid and override any earlier Will made.

So, make it a point and get your Will done, irrespective of your age.