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Why writing a Will is not a one-time exercise

moneycontrol, Jun 10, 2021


You should keep reviewing your Will periodically. It must factor situations such as birth, death, marriage of a family member, purchase of new assets and legislative changes

Will-planning is one of the most basic and prevalent tools of an estate plan. A Will is a legal document that captures the manner in which you wish to distribute your wealth to your desired beneficiaries, after your lifetime.

An oft-repeated mistake done by most individuals is to postpone its writing to a later stage in their life, stating that it is too early for them to plan as they do not have clarity on the future. The importance of this document for every individual could not be stressed enough with the icing on the cake being the flexibility to revoke and modify it anytime during your lifetime.

Further, a significant number of individuals are skeptical of its creation as they fear family conflicts.

While there could be numerous reasons for family disputes, one needs to ponder on probable causes that give rise to such destructive conflicts in families when it comes to inheritance.

Does Will-writing suffice?

Many limit the process of Will-planning to mere Will-writing. While putting your wishes from pen to paper is a vital step, it is not the only step when it comes to planning for a seamless inheritance transfer to your loved ones. As with everything, any half-baked process would not lead to the desired result. Mere Will-writing will not necessarily lead to hassle-free and seamless distribution of your wealth.

In case you are considering making your Will or have already written one, it may be worthwhile to ponder over the following questions:

-Do you think you have put together all the essential paperwork along with your Will for smooth transmission of your wealth?

-Are you passing on assets that have a clear and marketable title to your loved ones?

-Have you ensured that the technical and practical aspects of your Will are in sync?

-Have you ensured availability of enough liquidity so that your family can meet any financial obligations on your estate such as loans, probate, court fees?

-Has your plan considered contingent events such as incapacitation of a family member?

-Have you equipped your family members with the opportunities and challenges that inheriting wealth can bring?

A great deal of thought and planning needs to go into preparing your Will. Your Will should include suitable provisions to take care of contingent situations so that matters are not left in abeyance. For instance, if you appoint an executor (i.e., the legal representative to carry out the process of distribution of your assets as per your Will), you should even include a back-up executor should the primary executor not be available.

Don’t forget to include your foreign assets

With families going global, their asset holdings, too, would be spread across countries. You also need to consider if jurisdiction specific planning needs to be undertaken to comply with the local laws where you hold assets. For instance, if you have your assets in Singapore and India, perhaps you may want to create separate Wills for both jurisdictions.

Creating an inventory of all your assets is another crucial element, so that your inheritors are aware of the details of your estate. Do not forget to include details pertaining to your digital assets, for instance online banking, crypto holdings, reward point sites, digital wallets, or social media pages.

You should consider these essential points while planning your Will and avoid adopting Will-writing as a process in isolation without looking into the practical aspects.

Don’t rely on templates

To help you with a holistic approach to Will-planning, the benefit of consulting a specialist and having a bespoke Will is incomparable to a templated approach that may not take into account your unique circumstances and requirements. However, whether you choose to create your Will yourself or take professional help, it is important to take note of the fact that Will-writing is not a one-time exercise. You should keep reviewing it from time to time so that the Will mirrors the priorities of your life-stage, especially situations such as birth/ death/ marriage of a family member, purchase of key assets and legislative changes.

To ease the process of passing on your wealth to your loved ones and not putting your hard-earned wealth to chance, adopt a 360-degree approach to Will-planning that will enable your family to truly enjoy the fruits of your success.