Personal Finance

Don’t postpone making your Will

Abhishake Mathur | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 15, 2017



This legal document protects your assets and makes the process of inheritance simple

When we plan our financial goals for any year, there is one aspect that we often procrastinate or tend to neglect — creating a will. It is again that time of the year when you will be making your New Year resolutions.

Resolve to create your will this year. This legal document helps safeguard your assets in your lifetime and bequeath it to one or more people after your death.

A will puts your financial affairs in order by helping you review the mode of holding and nominations for each of your financial assets and property. It also makes your family aware of all your assets.

It is estimated that about ₹64,000 crore is lying unclaimed with banks, EPFO, PPF and insurance companies. Unclaimed fund means that the hard-earned money saved by someone for the family never made it to the family.

Besides, a will helps prevent conflict among relatives and other claimants by giving clear instructions in the inheritance plan. Otherwise, the process of inheritance becomes more complex.


Unlike some other documents where registration is mandatory (for example, a property sale agreement), getting a will registered is not mandatory. This is because registration does not prevent anyone from challenging the will. However, a registered will is put in the safe custody of the registrar.

Therefore, it cannot be tampered with, destroyed or stolen. Further, registration of the will by the testator can be evidence of the genuineness of the will.

To register a will, the testator has to personally visit the sub-registrar’s office along with two witnesses. One also needs to carry the original will, a doctor’s certificate for mental fitness (advisable), address proof, ID and two photographs of the testator and the witnesses. If you register a will, remember that all subsequent wills (or codicils) that you make would also need to be registered. Similarly, if you already had a will that was registered, it would also need to be re-registered.


One must make sure the will is valid and legal. A valid will has been defined under the Indian Succession Act, 1925 as “the legal declaration of the intention of the testator, with respect to his property, which he desires to be carried into effect after his death.”

Secondly, the will must be in line with the law and be made by someone who is competent to make it. This person needs to be a major, of sound mind, free from fraud, coercion and undue influence. A will must be in writing and can be on plain paper. Oral wills can be made by a soldier, airman employed in actual warfare or a mariner at sea by declaring his intention before two witnesses present at the same time.

Such a will, however, shall become null at the expiration of one month if the testator is still alive. The will must be signed by the testator and attested by two or more witnesses.

Points to note

A will can supersede the nominations made in bank accounts, financial assets such as mutual funds, etc. For most financial products, the status of a nominee is that of a trustee. The nominee does not automatically become the owner of this asset after the demise of the testator. For such financial products, the person named as beneficiary in the will would become its owner. If no will is made, the rights will be with the legal heirs as per the law of intestate succession.

This holds good for most financial instruments such as bank accounts, insurance policy settlements, post office savings and public provident funds.

There are, of course, some products and assets which, in some cases, might not have a provision for nomination. In such contexts, a will is the only instrument to indicate your choice of beneficiary for such options.

In such cases, when a nominee’s status is that of a trustee, there continues to be a definite benefit in having a will to clarify the final beneficiaries. It allows banks, mutual funds, insurance companies and depository participants to discharge their responsibility towards the depositor or investor. It is best if the nominee is also the beneficiary as per the will.

The author is Head of Investment Advisory Services, ICICI Securities

Published on January 15, 2017
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