Wills in India is still a topic not much familiar to a majority of people. About 57% of Indians don’t have a Will. The reasons are manifold. While some aren’t aware of its concept, others don’t realize its importance.
We understand that Writing a Will can be daunting. That’s why, before you get into the process of drafting your Will, it’s advisable to learn about the do’s and don’ts of writing a Will. Doing so will steer clear of any possible mistakes that might have all your efforts and planning go to waste, making your Will invalid.
But worry no more. This blog talks about seven surprising facts you probably didn’t know earlier. Read through every one of them to gather some new insights about writing Wills.
1. Digital Signatures are still not valid for Wills in India
Yes, you’re right! E-signatures are legally valid in India for 18 years now. According to the Information Technology Act (IT Act) (2000), e-signatures carry the same legal status as handwritten signatures. However, not all kinds of documents use e-signatures.
Certain documents like notaries, Wills or other testamentary dispositions, or documents that need registration with a Registrar or Sub-Registrar, are valid only with handwritten signatures. Without a handwritten signature or with a digital signature, your Will or similar documents will be held legally invalid.
2. You can appoint a guardian for your minor kids through your Will
Life is uncertain. You probably find yourself worrying about the future of your kids in your absence. And that is why succession planning for even your minor kids is important. In the case of an unfortunate demise of both parents, a legally drafted Will can assign a legal guardian for the children.
In the absence of a Will or when the Will is silent, the guardianship of the children is taken by the court where a guardian is appointed for them. And this can cause family disputes leading to distress for the children. You don’t want that!
3. If your divorce is still in process, your spouse is still your legal heir
According to Indian law, your marital tie is not legally broken even if the husband and wife execute a document stating their broken marriage. The married couple continues to be legally tied until the marital life is claimed to be broken by a decree under the Hindu Marriage Act.
Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act allows both parties to get a divorce using a joint petition. And Section 13B(2) states that your divorce is only granted with effect from the date of the decree.
This implies that your spouse is still your legal heir till your divorce is granted on the date of the decree.
4. You can’t leave your assets to an animal in India
Loved the movie Entertainment? Of course, you do. The Retriever grabs all your attention. But in case of technicality, it’s not quite true - you cannot leave your properties in the name of your pet in India.
It’s quite understandable to love your pet more than anything else. But emotions aren’t the basis of the law. You cannot leave your assets to your pet or any other animal. They aren’t humans, and hence, can’t be the owner of your property. However, you can write your Will stating provisions regarding caretaking of your pet after your demise!
5. You can donate to charity through Will to continue the legacy of the Joy of giving
Donating a part of your assets to charity can be the best way to bid farewell to life. It’s your way of giving back to the community. And Wills make it easier for you. In India, you have the authority to donate a part of your assets to charities and leave a legacy of the Joy of Giving. It will be the best gesture you could make by planning your legacy before the day comes!
6. It is not mandatory to register or notarise your Will in India
Indian law does not issue any mandate over the registration or notarisation of Wills for them to be valid. Under Section 17 of the Registration Act (1908) and Section 18(e), the decision about registering the Will depends upon the testator.
If the testator chooses to register his/her Will, the registration stands as evidence that all the necessary parties had appeared before the Registering Officer and the latter had ascertained their identities. A registered Will stays in the custody of the Registrar and can’t be tampered with. Nevertheless, an unregistered Will still does not lead to any invalidity. There is no necessity for execution before a notary public.
7. You can also distribute your digital assets through Will
Did you know that you can not only pass on your earthly possession and your business through your Will but also your digital assets? Your digital assets can be digital music or photos, funds from online stores like Amazon or Etsy, PayPal funds, or bitcoins, etc.
Generally speaking, all digital assets in your possession that are transferable will be included in your estate. Transferable digital assets include anything and everything that is worth money or of great sentimental value. You can use your Will to determine the owner of your assets. You own it, you can transfer it, and there’s no doubt you can put it in your Will.
However, you cannot pass on digital assets like apps on your phone, email and social media accounts, non-transferable licensed domains, or Netflix and Spotify subscriptions. Those will cease to remain yours even after death!
Need help preparing your Will?
Call us and our legal team will help you out throughout the process of drafting your Will. What’s more? You need not move an inch from your home. We bring everything to your doorstep. Call us now!
AasaanWill Zaroori Hain!