The fool and his money they say are soon parted. But clearly this doesn'tapply to canny American multimillioners. A recent study threw up some interesting home truths. Few millioners are keen to leave all their wealth to their next of kin or logical inheritors. In fact, Bill Gates the richest man, and Warren Buffet, second richest, have made bare provision in their wills so that their inheritors get money just to meet their basic needs. In our country, court battles over parental property are legion. To avoid infighting, it is advisable to write a ?will? distributing the property to the inheritors. The direction of the testator will prevail over the general law, and the property can and will be distributed accordingly. In the absence of a will, property will be distributed on the religion card. If he is a Hindu, then the Hindu Succession Act is applicable. Primary heirs of a Hindu Male are (a) sons, daughters, widow, mother, children of predeceased children, widow of predeceased son and children of predeceased grand children, the heirs of Hindu female are sons, daughters, widow, mother, children of predeceased son and children of predeceased grand children. The primary heirs of a Sunni Muslim are son(s), daughter(s), father, mother and husband/wife. In case of Shia Muslim, the primary heirs are husband/wife, mother, father, son(s), daughter(s). In case of Christians, the Indian Succession Act lays down that primary heirs are a widow/widower, son(s), daughter(s). for Parsis, the assets are inherited by wife, children, and parents if they are alive, for the respective shares of the primary heirs, one has to go for the basic law. Drafting a will isn'tdifficult. All that is required is a peace of paper and two witnesses to attest. Care should be taken that the witnesses are independent and not related even remotely to the transaction in the will. If you are a soldier you can make will on the war front also. For this, no witnesses are necessary. The same would apply to a sailor. A will need not be exhaustive. It is also not necessary to register a will, but the general feeling is that a registered will is more effective than an unregistered will, as it reduces the burden of proof on the claimants. In a will one can distribute moveable as well as immovable properties. For such properties like bank deposits, bonds, debentures it is advisable to avail the nomination facility, available in the respective laws. According to the Banking regulation Act, a nomination made by the depositor will prevail over other modes of inheritance. In case of lockers, to avoid future problems, it is advisable to go for joint holding. This would also be advisable in the case of ownership of scrip?s. It also helps legal heirs to approach the district court under the Indian Succession Act for a succession certificate. This covers debts and securities, but not assets like ornaments pledged, or articles kept in safe deposit. The succession certificate issued by the district judge is valid throughout India. So when should you write a will? And how should you about it? Anytime is a good time. But most people leave it to the 11th hour, when one is very ill, or there are family disputes brewing. A dying man'swill, for example, can be disputed. One can write a will and hand over it to the registrar with an instruction to disclose it after the death of the testator. The Indian Succession Act 1925 insists that the testator should be in sound mind and body. In case of Hindu ancestral property is concerned, a conceived child also gets a share in the property. In the case of Christians, Parsis or Jews, wills prepared before marriage stands revoked after marriage. The other advantage of writing a will is that the wealth tax liability will be distributed through different family members. For, e.g., in a will, one can specify the person as well as property to which he is entitled. One can specify in the will the properties to the son(s) to daughter(s)-in-law, grandson(s) and also to the Hindu undivided Family (HUF), thereby widening the tax net and reducing the burden of tax on the individual inheritors.
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