By Prateek Som
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the world severely. The current outbreak is the biggest challenge the world has seen since World War II. We hope that in these tough times you and your loved ones are staying fit and healthy.
This virus has the potential to create devastating effects and leave scars in the pages of the world history. A lot of it can already be seen in our day-to-day lives – Employment issues, Recession, Migrant Labour crisis.
These days we’re even facing a shortage of medicines, hospital beds and even oxygen, which is the most important and basic thing to stay alive. With the alarming rise in Covid-19 cases across India, even the youth are considering their future prospects. Times like these force us to evaluate and introspect on what can be done to protect our loved ones.
It is with a deep heart and an unwilling state of mind that one wishes to talk, inquire and understand about the law of wills and its governance in India. Covid-19 has turned the world upside down.
As the famous saying goes, “Better late than never.” Perhaps, it is time for some of us to start thinking on these lines, for the security, safety and protection of our loved ones, which have paramount importance in these troubled and dark times.
What is a Will?
A will is a legal declaration of the intention of a testator (author) with respect to their property – movable and immovable which they desire to transfer to their loved ones (beneficiaries) after their death. Every person of sound mind, not being a minor is entitled to transfer/ dispose their property to the loved ones or any other persons specified (beneficiaries) by writing a will.
A will is liable to be revoked or altered at any time by the testator (author) at any time as long as they’re competent. It can be written at any time during the lifetime of a person but can be executed only after the death of the testator (author). It can be withdrawn or canceled at any time during the lifetime of the testator (author). It can be changed a number of times and there is no legal restriction on it. The registration of will is not compulsory. Some states have a mandate to register it under state-specified laws. However, it is strongly advisable to register one to avoid any conflict or future litigation.
Once a will is registered, there is no scope of destruction, alteration, or tampering with it. More importantly, there is no stamp duty payable on the registration and hence no overhead costs.
The writer is an advocate practicing in the Supreme Court.