What is a will?
A will is the testament of a person about how his property both movable and immovable is to be managed; It may also include those persons who may become beneficiaries in his property after his death. A will can only be made with respect to self-acquired property of the testator or pertaining to disposal of his vested share in the ancestral property, A will can only be made by any person who is above the age of 18. In the absence of will the property of the testator could be disposed off according to intestate rules.
Essentials for valid will?
1. Declaration In The Beginning: In the first paragraph, person who is making a Will, has to declare that he is making this Will in his full senses and free from any kind of pressure and undue influence and he has to clearly mention his full name, address, age, etc at the time of writing the Will so that it confirms that a person really wishes to write a Will.
2. Details of Property and Documents: The next step is to provide list of items and their current values, like house, land, bank fixed deposits, postal investments, mutual funds, share certificates owned by testator. He must also state the place where he has kept all the documents if the will documents are under safe custody of the bank then testator has to write details about the releasing of the Will from the bank. Here it is the most important duty of the testator to communicate the above matter to the executor of the Will or any other family members, which will make the Will valid after testator death.
3. Details of ownership By The Testator: A testator while making a original Will should specifically mention that who should own his entire property or assets so that it will not affect the interest of the successors after his death. If testator wishes the name of the minor as beneficiary then a custodian of the property should be appointed to manage the property.
4. Attestation of the ‘Will’ : At the end, once the testator complete writing his Will, he must sign the will very carefully in presence of at least two independent witnesses, who have to sign after his signature, certifying that the testator has signed the Will in their presence. The date and place also must be indicated clearly at the bottom of the Will. It is not necessary that a person should sign all the pages of the Will instrument but he must sign to avoid any legal disturbances.
5. Execution of A ‘Will’: On the death of the testator, an executor of the Will or an heir of the deceased testator can apply for probate. The court will ask the other heirs of the deceased if they have any objections to the Will. If there are no objections, the court will grant probate .A probate is a copy of a Will, certified by the court. A probate is to be treated as conclusive evidence of the genuineness of a Will. In case any objections are raised by any of the heirs, a citation has to be served, calling upon them to consent. This has to be displayed prominently in the court. Thereafter, if no objection is received, the probate will be granted and It is only after that Will comes into effect.
Registration of ‘Wills’: According to the Section: 18 of the ‘Registration Act, 1908’ the registration of a Will is not compulsory. Once a Will is registered, It is a strong legal evidence that the proper parties had appeared before the registering officers and the latter had attested the same after. The process of registration begins when a Will instrument is deposited to the registrar or sub-registrar of jurisdictional area by the testator himself or his authorised agent. Once the scrutiny of Will instrument is done by the registrar and registrar is satisfied with all the documents then registrar will make the entry in the Register-Book by writing year, month, day and hour of such presentation of the document and will issue a certified copy to the testator. In case if registrar refuses to order Will to be registered then testator himself or his authorised agent can institute a civil suit in a court of law and court will pass decree of registration of Will if court is satisfied with the evidence produced by the plaintiff. A suit can only be filed within 30 days after the refusal of registration by the registrar. If the testator willing to withdraw the Will after the process of registration then a sufficient reason has to be given to registrar, if satisfied he will order for the registration of Will.
Probate: It is the copy of the will which is given to the executor together with a certificate granted under the seal of the court and signed, by one of the registrars, certifying that the will has been proved. The application for probate shall be made by petition along with copy of last Will and testament of the deceased to a court of competent jurisdiction. The copy of the will and grant of administration of the testator’s estate together, form the probate. It is conclusive evidence of the validity and due execution of the will and of the testamentary capacity of the testator. A probate is obtained to authenticate the validity of the will and it is the only proper evidence of the executor’s appointment. The grant of probate to the executor does not confer upon him any title to the property which the testator himself had no right to dispose off which did belong to the testator and over which he had a disposing power with a grant of administration to the estate of the testator. Probate proceedings cannot be referred to Arbitration. The probate court (whether it is the District Court or High Court) has been granted and conferred with exclusive jurisdiction to grant probate of a Will of the deceased.
‘Wills’ By Muslims Under ‘Mohammedan Law’: A Will under Mohammedan Law is called as Wasiyat, which means a moral exhortation or a declaration in compliance with moral duty of every Muslim to make arrangements for the distribution of his estate or property. The Mohammedan Law restricts a Muslim person to bequeath his whole property in a will and allows him to bequeath 1/3rd of his estate by writing will, which will take effect after his death. A will may be in the form of oral or written if the will is in writing need not be signed if signed need not be attested. Acc to Shia Law if served bequests are made through a will, priority should be given to determination by the order in which they are mentioned a bequest by way of will. A Will Can be made by a person who is of sound mind, major and possessing a absolute title, in favour of a person who is capable of holding property except unborn persons and heirs. The revocation of will is possible only if the subsequent Will is made by the testator. A Muslim person who is allowed to bequeath 1/3rd of his estate, he can exceed its limit on testamentary power of 1/3rd to 1/4th in case where heirs gives consent or only heir is husband or wife.
Statutes Relating To ‘Wills’: There are many laws which are dealing with the concept of ‘Wills’ as follows:
• Indian Succession Act, 1925
• Hindu Law (Hindus Personal Law)
• Muslim Law (Muslims Personal Law)
• Indian Registration Act, 1908