We have amended the format of Will which we had been sending to you and to our Financial Planning clients. We have made it in a word format so that you can edit it as you deem fit to suit your requirements. Also, we neither have, nor intend to have a copyright to this format – hence, you can freely distribute this format to anybody whom you wish to benefit. The format should largely meet the requirements of most of the families and may not require any major changes in most cases.
Please remember that there is no fixed format of a Will and it can be written in a manner that you find best suited to you. However, there are certain guiding points which you may find useful while preparing this important document:-
- You need to be at least 21 years old to write a Will. Do use the title ‘Last Will And Testament Of (state your name here)’ to make it clear that the document is your Will.
- State your full name, current address, and state that you are of sound mental state and under no duress from anyone to make the Will. Also name an Executor, a person who will carry through the tenets of the Will. You can name your spouse or the main beneficiary. If you are nominating an outside person to be the executor of your will, you must ask their permission first. If you have minor children, you must also indicate a guardian for them in your absence.
- Your Will should be Simple, Precise and Clear. Otherwise there may be problems for the legal heirs. It is always better to take the advice of a trusted advocate when writing your will.
- A Will must always be dated. If more than one Will is made then the one having the latest date will nullify all other Wills.
- It is better to make a Will at a younger age. As and when events or changes in the family necessitate changes the Will can be changed.
- A Will can be hand-written or typed out. No stamp paper is necessary. You can write a Will on a simple A4 piece of paper, sign and date it with witnesses and keep it in a secure location. It is often recommended to write your Will in your own handwriting as this can be verified later if there are any doubts raised by relatives.
- Each page of the Will should be serially numbered and signed by the Testator (that is you) and the Witnesses. This is to prevent the Will being substituted, replaced, or pages being inserted by people intending to commit fraud. At the end of the Will you (the Testator) should indicate the total number of pages in the Will. Corrections if any should be countersigned.
- If there are too many changes in the Will, it is better to prepare an entirely new Will rather than making modifications to an old Will.
- It is not compulsory for one to register a Will with the Registering Authority, but in case any property or asset is given to any charitable organization, then registration should be done.
- A Will becomes operative only after the demise of the person making the Will i.e. the Testator. There is no restriction in the way you can deal with any assets even after making a Will.
- If possible, have the two witnesses be a doctor and a lawyer. A doctor signing a will, won’t raise any question of you, being of unsound mind. The lawyer, will vet the will and make sure you don’t make stupid mistakes at the time of writing and signing it.
- The attesting witness and his or her spouse should not be a beneficiary under the terms of your Will. This might create vested interests and sometimes make your will invalid. Also, make sure the witnesses are younger than you and not very old as your will might be in effect for several years! And you want them to be present in this world
- Write your will on good quality thick white paper so it doesn’t get spoiled over a period of time. It should be stored in a plastic envelope in full size, without folds.
- Note that you should keep just one more copy of will and stored separately from the original will. The will must be stored very safely in your bank, in safe deposit box. You must also inform your next of kin, as to where you have stored your will. Do not make many copies of your will.
- In case of Hindus, it should be clearly stated if the property is inherited or not, because it makes a huge difference, as no ancestral property can be assigned to any person through a will. All rights on inherited property are acquired by birth. So if you inherited a property from your Father, you cannot say in a will, that you want to assign it to person X only! It will go to all your legal heirs as it is “Inherited”
- The value of assets often fluctuates, so it is better to mention how much each beneficiary will receive, in percentage terms rather than absolute numbers. Unless it is pure cash.