frequently asked questions

What is a Will?
A Will is a legal declaration by a person of his/her intention and desire of how his/her asset is to be dealt with or disposed of after the person's death. A Will can be changed at any time or withdrawn during the lifetime of the person making the Will (even if it is registered).

What are the essential characteristic of a Will?
- Legal Declaration: The documents purporting to be a Will or a testament must be legal, i.e. in conformity with the law and must be executed by a person legally competent to make it.
- Disposition of Property: The declaration should relate to disposition of the property of the person making the will.
- Death of the Testator: The declaration as regards the disposal of the property must be intended to take effect after his death.
- Revocability: The essence of every Will is that it is revocable during the lifetime of the testator.

Who can make a will?
Every person who is
- not a minor
- of sound mind
- free from fraud, coercion or undue influence

Does a Will have to be on Stamp Paper?
No, it does not. A Will on plain paper is valid, as long as it is signed by the testator, and the 2 attesting witnesses.

Why should I make a Will and what happens if I die without one?
In the absence of a Will, your asset may go to someone who you did not expect or want it to go to.
If you have minor children, then under a Will you can appoint a Guardian who will take care of your children in the event of your (and your spouse's) death. If you (and your spouse) die without a Will, then the court appoints a Guardian, who you may not have wanted.
Under a Will, you can decide who will be the Executor or the person who will oversee the disposal of your assets after your death. In the absence of a Will, the court appoints an Administrator, who you may not have wanted. You can name Alternate Beneficiaries in your Will in the event the main Beneficiary also dies with or before you.
Having a proper Will may avoid disputes between persons who claim a right to your asset. It is possible to give your share of the coparcenary asset through a Will, which would otherwise go to the other members of the coparcenary, including your children.

How to make a will legally binding?
A Will must be attested by two witnesses who must witness the testator executing the Will. The witnesses should sign in the presence of each other and in the presence of the testator.
Under Parsi and Christian law, a witness cannot be an executor or legatee. However, according to Hindu Law, a witness can be a legatee. A Muslim is not required to have his will attested if it is in writing.

What is an executor?
Executor is the legal representative for all purposes of a deceased person (testator) and all the property of a testator vests in him.

Does a Will have to be Registered to be valid?
No, it is not necessary to register a Will. A Will signed by you in the presence of at least two witnesses who must also sign as witnesses makes it a valid Will.
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What is the benefit of registering a Will?
If the registration of a Will is done, following benefits can arise:-
- In that event, a copy of the Will shall remain with the office of the registry
- In case there is tampering of the original Will, it can be compared with the Will maintained in the office of the registry.
- In the event the original Will is destroyed a certified copy can be obtained from the registry office.
- If a Will is made regarding leasehold property before a probate is obtained it will be convenient to strike out a name or carry out a mutation.
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How do I get my Will registered?
Registration of a Will is not compulsory in India. However, registration implies that the person writing the Will and the witnesses have appeared before the registering officers who have verified their identity and attested the same. There is no prescribed format. It must communicate the intention of the person. It can be in any language and can be either hand-written or typed. There is no stamp duty to be paid on a Will. To be a valid document, the Will must be signed and witnessed by at least two witnesses. The Will should be registered in the office of the sub-registrar of the district in which the testator resides.
Register your Will

Where do I get my Will registered?
The Will should be registered in the office of the sub-registrar of the district in which the testator resides. For Registration, the person writing the Will and the 2 witnesses have to appear before the registering officers, who will verify their identity and attest the same.
Register your Will

How can a Will be revoked or amended?
A Will can be revoked, changed or altered by the testator at any time when he is competent (essentially of sound mind) to make a Will. A person can revoke, change or alter his Will by executing a new Will, revoking the earlier Will, registering the new Will (if the old Will is registered), destroying the old original Will or by making a Codicil. On the marriage of an Indian Christian or Parsi testator, his/her Will stands revoked. This does not apply to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.

Does a Will have to be prepared by a lawyer?
No, you can draft your own Will, as long as your asset ownership and distribution is simple. Consider using a lawyer if:
- your family position is complicated – perhaps you have children with a previous partner, or you want to make special arrangements for children or a family member with a disability
- you have assets overseas like a holiday home
- you run a business and you expect it to form a part of your estate
These situations may need expert advice to ensure the Will drafted is pursuant to your wishes.

How long will a lawyer take to draft my Will?
How long will a lawyer take to draft my Will?

Can I get a lawyer to review my self-drafted Will?
LawRato has more than 6000 lawyers across India to help you review your Will and answer any specific questions you may have.

What is Probate of Will?
A probate means a copy of the Will, certified under the seal of a competent Court with a grant of administration of the estate to the executor of the testator. It is the official evidence of an executor's authority. A probate is mandatory when the Will is executed by a Hindu, Christian or Parsi in the cities of Mumbai, Calcutta or Chennai, or pertains to immovable property situated in Mumbai, Calcutta or Chennai.
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