We should all have a will and here’s how to write one
The will is the most important tool of estate planning and for women, its exercise is even more crucial to ensure the future of their loved ones. Sreepriya NS, Director and COO of Entrust Family Office tells us more about this essential legal document.
As a legal document, the will has existed since the days of ancient civilization. Even today, it is one of the most sought-after legal documents in estate and estate planning. However, despite its similarity in the legal world, its importance is often undermined, and a surprising number of people ignore the legal know-how of writing a will.
Essentially, a will is a legally binding document that specifies a person’s wishes and intentions regarding the distribution of their wealth and assets after their demise. A person who draws up a will is known as a âTestatorâ.
When to write a will
A will is a basic hygiene document that must be drawn up and kept in the archives as soon as possible. There are many factors that can change the way you choose to distribute your estate, so it is recommended that you review and update your estate planning documents periodically.
How to write a will?
There are a myriad of considerations to take into account before a person can even begin the process of writing a will. Here are some essential steps to follow to write a complete will.
List of all your assets and liabilities: This is one of the most important preliminary steps in the drafting of a will. Testators should make a list of all assets such as real estate, bank accounts, investments (stocks, mutual funds, and term deposits), cars, and any other property. If possible, testators can even categorize and list the value of each asset before including it in the will. When making these lists, it is also important for a testator to assess the ownership status of the assets. Determine whether an asset is owned independently or jointly with a business partner, spouse, parents, etc. will help determine if the asset qualifies to form part of the will.
While considering assets, a testator should also consider smaller and seemingly unimportant items such as heirlooms, knick-knacks, paintings, sculptures, and jewelry that have sentimental value. This especially applies to Indian women, as most receive valuable gifts to take to their marital home. Many other women are also their parents’ sole heirs and they could inherit a large collection of collectibles from their parents, etc.
Guardianship of children: Painful as the idea is, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that loss of life is a very real possibility and that parents need to prepare for it. This is particularly important in the case of single mothers who have dependent children. By will, parents can designate a guardian, that is to say one or more other persons, to look after their children until they reach the age of majority. Parents can also list a set of wishes regarding their child’s future, which can be part of the will.
Beneficiaries: Beneficiaries are all individuals / charities or organizations that may derive assets from a will. It is important for a testator to clearly identify all beneficiaries by their full names in a will to ensure that unworthy heirs do not benefit. In the event that a beneficiary is under 18, i.e. a minor, a legal guardian must be appointed. This guardian is responsible for safeguarding the assets / properties of the testator in the name and for the benefit of a minor beneficiary.
Appointment of an executor: An executor is an impartial person who ensures that the wishes of the testator are respected in accordance with his wishes.
Witnesses: It is important to have at least two independent witnesses who are legally contract adults. Testators should choose witnesses based on their loyalty and reliability. Also, it is advisable to choose witnesses who are not included as beneficiary in the will.
Benefits of writing a will
There are many advantages to writing a will. For starters, he can deal with the complexities of family matters such as heirs of multiple marriages. Arrangements can also be made for beneficiaries with special needs.
A will is therefore an essential basic hygiene document that can help protect your loved ones and avoid legal disputes over your patrimony and property after your death. A well-written will can guide the equitable distribution of wealth and assets among the intended beneficiaries and ensure peace and stability in your family.
Read also: Estate Planning Know-How Every Indian Woman Should Know