Planning to write a Will during Coronavirus crisis? Here's all you need to know
Coronavirus needs no introduction. This virus that causes respiratory tract illnesses has been declared as a pandemic by the WHO and is affecting several countries worldwide. India has been in lockdown in order to flatten the curve for COVID-19 cases since March 2020. Without a doubt, there are many things that Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic is inducing the common man to do. One such action is the making of a Will and rightly so. With the increased possibility of catching the disease from the deadly virus, resulting in an increased risk to life and fear of death, humans are demanding Will writing legal services more than ever. In these unreliable times, making (or amending) a final Will is the correct thing to do.
Although, talking (or even thinking about) death with your family is an extremely sensitive and emotional subject in normal times, the COVID-19 scenario seems to have made the human more willing to delve into the topic. It is important now more than ever, that individuals (legally capable of making a Will) and especially those with multiple assets, monies and family members, should write their Will.
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What is a Will and why is it beneficial?
A Will is a legitimate/legal declaration of an individual’s intention to distribute his/her self-acquired assets amongst persons of his/her choice. An individual above the age of 21 can legally write his/her Will. A Will ensures financial security of your loved ones, including your partner, your children - minor or major, after your death. It helps in avoiding clashes within families for your assets and monies after your death. It smoothes the transfer of your wealth to persons of your choice. It ensures that your property is dissolved the way you intend it to.
Through a Will;
You can decide who receives your assets and in what proportion,
You can decide who will be the executor of your Will and how your property is to be managed,
You can appoint a guardian for your minor children,
You can settle and dispose of the property in a faster and cheaper way, than legal battles within your family after you’re gone,
You can try to ensure financial security and safety for your loved ones,
You can try to ensure that your business/company if any is passed on to your heirs or co-owners so that it is managed properly, etc.
In these difficult COVID-19 times, you want to ensure that (heaven forbid) if anything happens to you, your family is secured. You ought to ensure that people you love and want to be protected, are not left unprotected. You can even protect your minor children by appointing their guardians through a Will.
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How to make a Will during Coronavirus outbreak?
Although one can write their own Will, it is recommended that you hire a lawyer to do the deed with and for you. If you have already made your Will, you should get it vetted/checked by a lawyer. Even during the COVID-19 lockdown, you can get your Will drafted by an expert lawyer over video/phone calls and emails.
A Will must consist of the following:
A declaration in the beginning stating that it is your ‘Last Will or Testament’,
Statement regarding your free will and lack of any undue influence in making your Will,
Description of the properties, assets, money, financial accounts, share certificates, mutual funds, etc.,
Nominations of the beneficiaries, i.e. individuals who will inherit your wealth and in what proportions,
Legal guardian for children if minors,
Nomination of the executor of your Will who will be responsible for dividing the wealth and carrying out the wishes mentioned in the Will,
Any other valid wishes such as particulares regarding your funeral,
Signatures; your signature along with that of 2 witnesses, and
Registration of the Will. Although Registration of your Will is not mandatory by law, it is beneficial to register one as it cannot be tampered with/lost/stolen easily and no person can access it without express permission. It also rules out controversies regarding forgery, undue influence, etc. and establishes bona fides and genuineness of the document.
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Individuals have realised that an absence of Will can cause major inconveniences to their loved ones. The lockdown has forced many to spend time at their homes and contemplate upon their lives, while simultaneously consuming pandemic and death related news, thus contributing to a higher percentage of people actualizing the drafting of their Wills. However, one should take precautions such as wearing masks while meeting with witnesses for signatures and/or lawyers if necessary and also avoiding moving out of the house unless absolutely necessary.
Considering the unpredictability of life, especially since the Coronavirus has hit us, it is best to make a Will soon. You must contact a lawyer who will ensure that your Will is made in an unambiguous manner, and that your Will making experience is smooth and stress free. In these uncertain times, you should be certain to make your Will!