Writing a “will” should be part of good financial planning

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Last week there was a huge announcement of the succession plan for the head of Reliance. The market reacted from his point of view, but what is important is the clarity of the future of this conglomerate. We witnessed the turmoil of the business and the family when the founder died at the turn of the century. The trouble continued for some time until a settlement was brokered by the surviving mother. We had also seen the long legal battle for control of the MP Birla group.

The elimination of risks, whatever they may be, is one of the rudimentary principles of financial planning and the absence of a will is a certain risk. Moreover, writing a will makes the whole process complete, not only defining the goals, but also establishing an area in place. Doing so could avoid the repercussions the family has to deal with and the legal clarity it provides after the member dies. Therefore, I view this as an extension and completion of the financial plan rather than a separate exercise.

A will is a legal document that sets out one’s wishes regarding the distribution of one’s wealth, property, and the care of remaining family members. If there is a particular way one intends to dispose of or transfer the existing assets in their absence, a will becomes mandatory. I put in it the need for a will of assimilation or clear affirmation of the various goods, wealth, etc., as well as the way in which it must be used to one’s wishes posthumously. If we ease the emotions, it presents a rational document that outlines the way forward for other family members in using the accumulated wealth according to the priorities of the deceased. All they need is a piece of paper to write on and a witness to attest to it. Writing a will allows the person to designate an executor, the person or persons responsible for drawing up the will and a legal guardian in the event of custody of children. There are provisions governing minors in the Indian Succession Act 1925.

Coming to the details of who could make a will, any (mentally) sane person aged 21 and over is eligible. Any will should begin with the statement of what it is i.e. “will or testament” and mention the disclaimer that it was done without any undue pressure or distress. A complete list of assets, objects, etc. must be provided. their details (such as real estate, investments (financial), bank deposits, etc. and value at the time of writing. One could also indicate where original documents or location (if physical gold, bank lockers, etc. .) storage The will could go beyond just possessions, wealth, etc., and could cover other wishes such as that of funeral particulars, even taking care of pets, etc. One should list the all beneficiaries of the will, those who inherit property, wealth, etc., as well as legal guardians in the event that the beneficiaries are minors Clearly identify each of the beneficiaries, especially when naming beyond the members of the family to avoid any later dispute.Another important aspect of the will is the choice of the executor, the person(s) who will be responsible for ensuring that the will is executed in accordance with the will. One could even mention consideration, if any, for the executor.

Once these contents are mentioned, they must be attested by a self-signature and require the signature of two witnesses to be completed. Another debate raging among the people is whether the “will” will be registered or not. It is not mandatory to be registered but any written will is valid. It can be notarized and if registered, the testator (the person making the will) and witnesses must go to the registry office.

(The author is co-founder of “Wealocity”, a wealth management company and can be contacted at [email protected])

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