WILLS FOR NON RESIDENT INDIANS
A Will is a legal document which should be made in the presence of two witnesses and attested by two witnesses which clearly sets out testator’s wish for the distribution of the assets after their death. A will is the simplest instrument for estate planning and transferring assets from one generation to another.
Some major advantages of making a will are as follows:
- Wealth distributes: After you make a will you will be assured about the distribution of your assets in a way you wanted.
- Protection for your family: A will prevents anyone from making any bogus claim and ensures that all the assets are safeguarded with your family or with only those people you have bequeath the assets in the will.
- Avoidance of disputes and legal hassles: By making an unambiguous and legally valid will, chances for disputes are few and far between. More than 3 crore cases are pending before courts of India and civil cases can hang around for up to 20 years incurring huge legal expenses. A will ensures hassle-free transfer of titles to beneficiaries of the will in the quickest possible way.
- Tax benefits: If a separate will for India is made by an NRI they can get some tax benefits.
- Tally of assets: In often cases, legal heirs are unaware of all the assets of the testator such as bank accounts and immovable property. So many assets are left without any track. In Indian banks alone thousands of cores are lying in dormant saving accounts which are unclaimed. While making a will one must list out all of the assets so that legal heirs could get an appropriate inventory for all the assets you are holding so that the chances of losing trace of any asset by legal heirs are reduced.
The apparent apprehension of every NRI is how the succession of their properties will transpire? And how they can get an upper hand in their estate planning? As a Non Resident there is a possibility that of owning and holding movable and immovable assets in the country where you are currently residing and in India as well. The problem with such a situation is that the will prepared by an NRI in India may not be considered valid in the country of their residence and similarly will prepared outside India may not be considered valid in India because succession laws are country-specific and depend on various factors such as:
- Country of domicile
- Resident country at the time of death
- Location of movable property
- Location of immovable property
- Forced heir-ship and community property laws of the domicile country
Making separate will for different counties may seem as the most sensible solution although in most cases making a separate will is not required. A composite unambiguous and legally sound will that lists out all the individual property or assets along with their respective country is sufficient additionally it is easier to prove the genuineness of a composite single will when compared to multiple wills. However, making a separate will for India can save taxes of inheritance as inheritance or estate tax was abolished in India in 1985. Moreover, a separate will ensures effortless transfer of titles to family members or other beneficiaries of the will. If the country where you are residence is governed by personnel laws such as Sharia laws in UAE. Then having a separate will for India assures distribution of your assets in India as per your personal laws. You can opt for making a composite or separate will after consulting estate lawyers as per your requirements and preferences.
A will executed outside India does not get automatically enforceable in India. To enforce a will executed outside India probate or letters of administration needs to be obtained. On the other hand separate Indian will shall be registered in India or attested by the office of Indian High Commission and the draft of the will should be in accordance with the Indian Succession Act 1925, Registration Act 1908 and other concerned laws.
As per The Indian Succession Act any person of sound mind who has attained majority can make a will. People who are deaf, dumb or blind cannot make a will. A will can be written in any language and should contain clear intentions of the testator. Leaving aside testator and beneficiaries a will should also have an executor who is responsible for execution of the property as mentioned in the will by the testator. An executor should be a person whom you trust and it is always recommended that the executor should be younger then the testator. After writing a will it is very probable that you might want to change or amend your will in future because of changing dynamics of your family and relationships or because of acquiring new movable or immovable properties.
A will is said to be a perfect epitome for a living document as it can be edited or updated anytime in any manner as per testator’s aspiration. Minor changes in a will can be made through a supplementary statement called “codicil in legalese” which is also required to be registered with the will. But in case you want to make major changes in the will then you need to rewrite the will and get it registered once again or if the previous will was not registered you can cancel it yourself by destroying it and writing a new will.
Any person can write a will himself as there is no prescribed format of writing a will however a will can only be considered valid if it is in accordance with registration, succession and other related laws of the concerned country. Therefore it is always recommended to consult a legal professional while making a will so that it is made in a full proof manner that cannot be set aside. Legal professionals and estate experts provide assistance in writing a will as per your wish while keeping local succession laws in mind. So, that your will is executed in the way you always wanted. Contact now to know more.