What is a Will?

Wills is a personal legal document through which a person, the testator expresses their desires as to how their property is to be managed and distributed after their demise.

What happens when someone dies without writing his/her Will?

When a person dies without a Will (intestate) his/her estate is passed on according to succession law applicable on the person. The distribution as per applicable succession law may not be as per wishes of the person.

For e.g. If a Hindu person dies without a Will, the wealth of the person will be divided on the basis of the “Hindu Succession Act 1956”. The property of a Hindu male dying intestate, or without a will, would be first distributed EQUALLY to heirs within Class I.The following relations are considered to be Class I heirs:

  • Son/Daughter
  • Widow
  • Mother
  • Son/Daughter of a pre-deceased son (pre-deceased means “already Dead”)
  • Son/Daughter of a pre-deceased Daughter
  • Widow of a pre-deceased son
  • Son/Daughter of a pre-deceased son of a pre-deceased son (3 levels)
  • Widow of a pre-deceased son of a predeceased son

If there are no heirs categorized as Class I, the property will be given to heirs within Class II. If there are no Class I or II heirs, then the property will first go to agnates (distant blood relatives of male lineage) and if no agnates are available then to cognates (distant blood relatives of male or female lineage). And if there are no cognates, then the estate will go to government. For more details on relationships falling under each Class of heirs and other conditions please refer Hindu Succession Act 1956.

Does Will need to be registered?

No, it is not mandatory to register the Will. However, it is advisable to register the Will, as the registration authority would attest the authenticity of the registered document and of the registration process. Also, if the Will is misplaced it can be retrieved from registration office.

Who can be Witness to the Will?

Will needs to be witnessed by at least two competent persons. Witnesses should not be named beneficiary in the Will. Also, if possible, witnesses should be younger to testator. (Note: Witnesses only need not know the Contents of the Will)

Who are Executors of the Will? Can a beneficiary be appointed as an Executor?

An Executor is the person who or oversees the distribution of the assets of the deceased person in accordance with the Will. Yes, a beneficiary can be appointed as an Executor. More than one person can be appointed as executor, even a professional executor company can be appointed as Executor