Will – Essential Elements, Types & Importance

A will or testament is a legal document that expresses a person’s (testator) wishes as to how their property (estate), movable or immovable, is to be transferred after their death. It also specifies who (executor) is to manage the property until its final distribution. 

A will is important document that illustrates an individual’s wishes clearly and precisely.

Essential Elements

A will should include a Declaration stating that a person is of sound mind and would like to be the executor of the will, Name of the testator -The person who has made the will or has died leaving a valid will, Beneficiary– The individuals or charities who will inherit the deceased’s assets or estate,

A Revocation of all prior wills in order to avoid any kind of conflict of interests, Information regarding Distribution of specific gifts where a specific or particular named item is left as a gift in the will. For e.g.- a piece of jewellery, books, paintings or antiques, a Nomination of personal representatives and alternatives  and A waiver of surety bond requirement which ensures executors does not have to pay for a bond on order to execute the will.

Though registration of a will in not compulsory, it is recommended if the testator feels that the will can be challenged and can be registered with the sub-registrar. A registered will can be withdrawn at any time and any modification (a codicil) of registered will needs to be registered subsequently.

Types of will :

Oral will – Usually only accepted in case of soldiers/airmen engaged in warfare and mariner at sea.

Holographic will – Handwritten will by the testator, needs no witnesses but handwriting will be deciphered and verified by the courts.

Conditional or Contingent Wills – They come into effect with some conditions.

Joint Wills – Used usually by married couples to devolve properties/assets held by them to ensure the assets are transferred to the children.

Concurrent Wills – Separate wills to devolve different assets

Mutual Wills – Two people, usually husband and wife creating different wills to pass the assets to the other person.

Importance of will

  • It helps decide how a person’s estate will be distributed.
  • It assists in deciding who will take care of a person’s minor children.
  • To avoid a lengthy probate process.
  • It helps to decide who will wind up the affairs of a person’s estate. 
  •  Avoid greater legal challenges.

If a person dies without a will, part or all of a person’s estate may pass to someone us did not intend.

Problems faced in absence of a will

If a person dies without a Will, the law says that one has died “intestate,” which means that there are left no instructions as to how a person’s property is to be divided and distributed. The following problems may be faced by the family;

  • Delays are caused to get a probate from the court for a probate.
  • If there is more than one heir, distribution of assets can lead to bitter battles as they could have differences..
  • State law may divide a person’s property between a person’s surviving spouse and children contrary to a person’s wishes.
  • If there are no heirs, property may pass to the state rather than to friends and relatives.

Role of an Executor

An executor is someone who implements the tasks and functions illustrated in the will and makes sure that the testator’s wishes are addressed. They are also known as the legal personal representative.

It’s important to appoint someone as an executor as it’ll be up to them to follow the instructions and distribute the assets according to the will. It is important to record the full name and address of the executor in the will in order locate them to fulfill their duties when need arises.

It is important for each one of use to have a will to ensure that our loved ones are not in trouble. Contact your Fee Only Financial Planner to help you draft a Will.

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