Making a Will in the time of Pandemic
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Making a Will in the time of Pandemic

June 28, 2021

MGP holds online meet to create awareness on making a Will; discusses its benefits with expert

Mysore/Mysuru: The COVID-19 crisis has heightened economic and financial uncertainty. Of late there are reports that there is a spike in the number of people drawing up their Will, an important task that one might otherwise ignore. A Will is a declaration of how a person wishes his or her property be distributed after death. 

Legal experts say that writing a Will is an important task that should be on the immediate to-do list and the sooner one has a succession plan in place, the better. In the absence of a Will, assets a person has accumulated over a lifetime can become a point of conflict among loved ones and relatives. 

City-based NGO Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) recently conducted a virtual awareness programme on registering a Will where it was highlighted that absence of a Will can lead to confusion among legal heirs, resulting in bad blood among family members. 

“To prevent your heirs getting into a protracted legal tussle to claim their share of the property you’ll leave them, a Will is important. The document spells out how your property and wealth would be handled and allocated to your legal heirs. It will also protect your spouse, children and immediate family legally from problematic claims by other family members,” said Prof. K.S. Suresh, retired Principal and Chief Executive of JSS Law College, Mysuru, who spoke at the MGP meeting on the topic ‘Succession of Property’.

Two witnesses needed

Some of the points that were brought out by Prof. Suresh were as per the Indian Succession Act, a Will is a declaration by an individual in the direction of the division of his property to anybody he likes after his death. The Will can be on a stamp paper, duly registered in a court or even a handwritten declaration on a plain paper duly witnessed by two persons known to the person writing the Will. 

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“The Will should contain about the division of his ancestral property or a self-earned property to the legal heirs of his choice apart from the Bank deposits assigned to the nominee of his choice. Liabilities cannot be a part of the Will,” he said. “Registration of a Will is important as it establishes the bona fides and puts to rest any controversy regarding fraud, undue influence, breach of trust, among others, as the Sub-Registrar of Assurances is expected to follow a due process,” he added. 

Declaration of mental soundness 

If the death occurs without any Will written, it is called dying intestate and so many legal procedures have to be followed to claim successors through courts when unknown members hitherto come out demanding their claim. “The Will can be written by the owner of the property in favour of anybody he/she desires and need not be a family member, provided it is self-earned. The Will should start with a declaration of soundness of mind of the maker and a minor or a mentally unstable person cannot make a Will,” Prof. Suresh said. 

“One of the advantages of having a Will is that you can always revise it as many times as you want and you could also add or subtract legal heirs from it. However, do remember, minor changes in a registered Will can be done through supplementary statements. Major changes would require creating a new Will that would supersede the previous version. It is important to note that mentioning dates in each Will is important to establish how recent it is,” he noted. 

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Once the assets are distributed as per the Will, the beneficiary may need to obtain a probate, especially if the Will includes bequeathing of immovable assets. It can be obtained from the court by paying the applicable fees. Once you acquired, challenging the Will would become difficult, he added. Also, do inform immediate family members about your Will so that they know it exists and should be referred to and enforced after your death.

MGP President Dr. Shiva-murthy, Vijayalakshmi Srini-vasan, K.V. Ramanath, S.V. Raghavendra, Aswathanarayan, Dr. T.N. Manjunath, Sreemathi Hariprasad, Vasanthkumar Mysoremath, Suresh Nayak, Lakshukumar, Venkatesh Kharidi and Prof. B.S. Shankara  attending the meeting.

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