Dumbledore once said, “To a well-disciplined mind, death is the next great adventure.” When Harry Potter found out he left the mess behind. For us Muggles, a wish can simplify things once we depart.
It sounds weird, though, doesn’t it? It calls for a clinical approach to living, wealth accumulated (or not yet accumulated). This raises uncomfortable questions: Who should leave the money? How to calculate the price? Who takes better care of a Lego Imperial Star Destroyer or a crabby old cat? Shriya Mishra, litigation partner at TKC Partners, who specializes in partition cases, and Pranav Jain, partner at Imprint Legal, who works in property law, break it down.
Start soon. “If you’re 35 and have kids, think about appointing a guardian,” says Jain. This works even for people who don’t consider themselves rich. “What comes into play is not your property, but how you want to be treated, for example, in case of a medical problem. A will gives you autonomy over yourself. Single people and those without children want to give their property to their parents.
Go digital. Somewhere in everyone’s archives are 6,000 mood shots of Ladakh, an unfinished script, promising doodles, and a thread-roll of witty tweets. Jain says it’s a good idea to think of digital assets as intellectual property. The will should include the social media password so that someone can sell it as an asset, “and give the proceeds to the mother,” says Jain. “But throw something at people — they need financial and mental space before taking it.”
Ace Basics. Mishra says, “A will can only be made in relation to self-earned assets.” Ancestral (joint family) property cannot be left voluntarily. And unpaid credit card bills could become your bank account heir’s problem, so offer a heads-up, maybe?
Fill it up. A good idea is to divide the will into movable assets (cash, jewelry, shares, art or cars) and immovable assets such as houses or other assets. And be generous with the details. “Keep it low enough to clearly identify the property,” suggests Jain. “In case of land, full address including plot number, house number, locality, city, pin code. Mention bank account number, branch and jewelery details along with movable property.
Pick and choose. Love your sister but hate her toxic boyfriend? Wills allow for settlement. “If you have a flat and you want to give it to your sister, but you want to make sure that she doesn’t sell it or leave it to her husband or children; the will can give her a lifetime interest,” says Mishra. “She has rights to the flat as long as she lives. Her After death, it can go to whatever you specify.”
Please reconsider. A person can continue to make new wishes in his life. A will may also contemplate all future assets that the person may earn/inherit/win in the coming years. Mishra says, “Once the will is registered, it cannot be amended. “But people are allowed to change their minds, so make a new one.” Even if you have an old, registered will, the new one will take precedence.
Look at the law. “Each state has different laws regarding registration of wills,” says Mishra. Every will must also state who the executor is. Ideally, entrust the execution to a lawyer or impartial third party. “If you can’t do it yourself, you can appoint someone to make medical decisions for you,” adds Jain.
Keep it safe. Wills are usually kept in bank lockers. “That locker will be opened only by bank officials, the testator or his nominee, so there is no possibility of tampering,” says Mishra. Jain also suggests making a video of yourself reading and signing the well to reduce the chances of cheating as well.
From HT Brunch, May 20, 2023
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