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  • Category: Indian Law

    Does a letter amount to a valid will?


    What is a will and does a formal letter make you to consider as a will? A doubt haunts many and check this ISC webpage. Our legal experts would guide you here properly to know more about this.

    Can a letter be considered a valid will if the person deceased left instructions on how his estate should be distributed even though he did not have witnessesses. For example a man dies and just leaves a letter indicating on how his estate should be distributed when he was drafting the same letter he had no witness.
  • #150770
    Legally speaking a will should be signed by the witnesses and should also be registered to avoid any fake or fraudulent will to resurface at any time in future to unnecessarily complicate the issue.

    If all the contenders to the asset and properties of the deseased agree to such a letter and there is no dispute or confrontation then it can be taken as a will. Otherwise it is always challengeable in court of law for its validity.

    Thoughts exchanged is knowledge gained.

  • #150774
    Wills must meet certain standards to be valid. The person making the will, known as the testator, must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. The testator must appoint an executor, provide for the distribution of his property after death, and sign and date the will in the presence of witnesses.
    You can draft a number of different types of wills. It is better to get the help of an attorney when selecting which type of will is most appropriate for you.
    Simple Wills:
    A simple will distributes property from the estate of a testator whose finances are uncomplicated. Many testators write simple wills themselves, although the assistance of an attorney can help prevent mistakes that might lead to unintended legal consequences. A simple will should be printed instead of handwritten and should include the testator's name, address and marital status; statements indicating which assets are to go to which beneficiaries; a section appointing an executor for the estate and a guardian for the testator's minor children if the other parent is dead; and places for the testator and two or three witnesses (depending on which state you live in) to print and sign their names. The will should include the date the will was signed, rather than the date it was written.

    Testamentary Trust Wills
    A testamentary trust will is a will that puts at least some of your property into a trust. A trust distributes your assets to a beneficiary but is administered by a third person who controls when and how the property is distributed to the trust beneficiary. You might establish a spendthrift trust, for example, for the benefit of a financially irresponsible beneficiary. The trust administrator would distribute the trust assets gradually instead of presenting them to the beneficiary in a lump sum. Although the estate executor and the trust administrator may be the same person, they do not have to be. The format of a testamentary trust will be similar to that of a simple will.

    Joint Wills
    A joint will is created by two testators who leave their property to each other -- in other words, the testator who dies first gets everything. In addition, it specifies how the estate will be distributed when the second testator dies. A joint will cannot be revoked without the consent of both testators, meaning that it is irrevocable as soon as one of the testators dies. Like testamentary trust wills, the format of a joint will can be similar to that of a simple will.

    Living Wills
    Unlike other types of wills, a living will do not distribute property after the death of the testator. Instead, it gives instructions on what type of medical treatment you wish to receive if you become too ill to communicate. For example, you might state that if you become terminally ill and unconscious, you don't want to be hooked up to a feeding tube even if you would die without it. The formal requirements for a living will are more flexible than for a testamentary will, but it should be clear and detailed.
    In some cases if the person writes the will on a paper with his own hand writing, it can also be considered as a valid will but there should be at least two wittnesses.

    drrao
    always confident

  • #150779
    For example a man dies and just leaves a letter indicating on how his estate should be distributed when he was drafting the same letter he had no witness.Is it valid?
    Just a wish written on a piece of paper intending to bequeath property to a particular person/s has no legal sanctity in India (without witnesses). The short answer would be No, please discuss with a lawyer who is familiar with Indian inheritance law and the practices of your community.

    We are taking about wills in India. A hand written will, provided it meets the basic criteria.The person should have been known to be of sound mind.,able to comprehend and has written his/her will, His/death is not under suspicious circumstances and is not a minor. In this case, it may not be valid because the Indian Succession Act of 1925 among other things also states that the will should have three signatures minimum. One of the person making the will and two more witnesses ( these two need not be at the same time). The witness should not be a spouse or a person named in the will as one among the benefactor.

    In this case, IF there are no other wills and IF all the successors are in agreement with what is written in it and the other criteria are met, then you can approach the court.

    If this is not accepted and the letter is invalid, then the division of property would be under the exisiting laws of inheritance based on the tradition of the community.

    SOME MYTHS ABOUT WILLS

    Wills shoudl be in a formal application or prescribed format, needs to be on a stamp paper, needs to be registered, needs to be attestated. These are not compulsory or mandatory, these just make the process easier.

    A will makes life easier for the heirs to share the assets when we are not around. The will should state clearly about the persons mental status, list of assets,, who will get what, if the benefactors are minors then the guardian for them. Finally sign it, have at least two witnesses who need not be privy to what is written in it. Finally, each page should have the initials of the person.

    You should also remember that if you put the will forward in the legal world, then you are burdened with the task of proving that the will is valid. Lastly, even if this letter is by any chance upheld and it bequeaths the entire wealth of the dead husband to his wife, then she does not have full/absolute claim in the wealth.

  • #150786
    There are certain guidelines and set procedures for writing a will. The will should clearly indicate what is the portion of the assets and property to be given to each beneficiary.

    Though a person can write a will himself and get it witnessed but it is better if the help of a lawyer is sought so that there are no confusions or anomalies in the will which may create unnecessary conflict and confrontation among the beneficiary at a later stage.

    The will is the final document for the division of property among the heirs and a property written will is required. The will should be registered in the office of the concerned registrar or designated authority so that there should not be any scope for misusing or altering it.

    A person can be designated as an executor of the will and his name is to be mentioned therein.

    In absence of the will, the division of property is done as per the existing law procedure which means equitable and proportionate distribution to the heirs.

    Knowledge is power.

  • #150788
    Will can be valid even if it is not witnessed, if the will is written by the make(testator) in his own handwriting, where it clearly lists and describes all the assets willed to be disposed and clearly lists the beneficiaries thereof. It is valid if the will is written or made with the testator's free will, with full understanding of the effects and consequences of what is made and his intent is very clear as to dispose or distribute the assets after his death.

    However even a valid will also can be challenged in a court of law when there is a dispute among the purported beneficiaries or any one who claims the will is made under some pressure and not under free mind.Even a supposedly valid will can be challenged in court when someone disputes that the one referred is not the final will, and he possesses the final will.
    It is always better to get the will probated from court.Probate is a certificate issued by a court certifying that the will is the final.

    However if the beneficiaries do not have any dispute, then they can accept the will as it is and it will be valid even if no witnessed at all. Witnessing adds a little more easy acceptability and credibility that some independent and non-beneficiary non-interested persons were witness to the making of the will, made by the testator in his full senses and with intent to will and full knowledge of the content.


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