Estate Planning is an important aspect of retirement planning. It is a way to protect and preserve one’s assets and legacy for the loved ones.
Estate planning tools range from complex aspects like creating a trust for tax planning purpose to simple ones like making a will. Outlined here are four important facts about making a will that can help us understand its need and features:
1. Why making a will is important? Making a will is the cornerstone of Estate Planning. Deferring the process of making a will can leave the family of the deceased in a difficult position. ‘If a person dies intestate’ simply put if a person dies without a will then his legal heirs have to apply for a ‘Succession Certificate’. Such certificate obtained by court can prove their relation to the deceased and is required by most institutions for division of assets. For example, the bank will ask for such certificate to release the funds of person who died to his family members. Conversely, in the case of death of a person who has a will, it has to be submitted in the court for ‘Probate’. Probate is court process by which a will is proved valid or invalid.
2. How to make one? As per law, a will can be made with or without the help of a legal counsel. For a will to be legally binding : will has to be made by a person who is above the age of majority; the person signing will should be of sound mental health; will is executed properly i.e it has to be signed by the person preparing his/her will and witnessed by two legally competent adults. The maker of the will has to understand the contents of the will in terms of details of the assets he/she is leaving behind for beneficiaries. It is advisable to make a will while the person is in good health to avoid emotional stress.
3. Is it always simple? Most wills are simple. They contain the details of the existing assets and how to distribute them to the beneficiaries. Nonetheless, there are people with special requirements who opt for a legal expert to address to certain special needs like a beneficiary with special needs, children from previous marriage or a desire to disinherit someone from his/her legacy.
4. Kinds of will A simple will can be written individually by a person. If two or more people are making a statement regarding distribution of their assets then it’s a joint will. A will that can be executed only after occurrence of an event can be a conditional will. A will that is not written or documented is an oral will. A living will is written by person directing his/her doctor to discontinue any treatment which is being given only as artificial support of life.
A common man does not know the complexities of legal matters and may not be able to execute a valid will owing to lack of legal awareness. It is advisable to consult a competent estate planning attorney to help one draw up a valid will