A property will is a legal document which clearly defines how an individual wishes to distribute their assets after they pass away. Drafting a will is important as it facilitates smooth property transfer to the right heirs without any hassles. According to the Indian Succession Act of 1925, a property will is a legal declaration given by an individual stating the terms and conditions of the property they intend to transfer after their lifetime. In case, a person dies without drafting a will, property transfer takes place according to the law of succession. An important characteristic of a property will is that it becomes legal and valid only after the death of the testator i.e. the person who is drafting the will. Until the death of the testator, the legatee or the inheritor has no rights on the properties. Drafting a will is quite simple and easy as there are no complex procedures involved. Below are a few important aspects that you have to keep in mind before drafting a property will:
Start with a declaration
The declaration is an essential component of a property will. While drafting a will, the individual must start by clearly stating that he is creating it with a sound mind without any kind of external pressures. This is an important aspect that conveys your intent for drafting the will. Ideally, the statement of the declaration must include details such as your name as per official records, residential address, and age. These details are extremely crucial to validate your identity.
Share complete details of your assets
The next step while drafting your will is listing your assets. Prior to the preparation of your will, make sure you have a complete checklist of all your property investments and their estimated market value. From your residential properties and commercial establishments to plots and apartments, prepare a list of everything that you own. It is always advisable to take the help of real estate experts to calculate the approximate market value of your properties. You must also mention the location where the documents of these properties are stored. Apart from the details of your real estate investment, you can also include the details of your bank deposits, mutual funds and stocks.
Define the percentage of ownership transfer
This is the most important step while drafting a property will. Make sure you clearly mention the names of the heirs to whom you are willing to transfer the ownership of your properties. For this, you need to have a clear idea on who should own what kind of properties and in what proportion. In case you are transferring your property ownership to a minor, ensure that you appoint a custodian who can take care of the assets till the minor becomes an adult. While selecting a custodian for your minor, it is very important to choose someone who is extremely trustworthy and loyal to you.
Include witnesses and sign the document
The final step in drafting the will is the testator’s signature in the presence of two witnesses. An important consideration while choosing witnesses is that they should not be any of the inheritors mentioned in the will. Instead, they could be your friends, neighbours or acquaintances. The witnesses have to sign and certify that the will was signed by the individual in their presence. One important point to be noted is that the witnesses have to sign in all the pages of the property will along with the date and place. It is not necessary for your witnesses to know the details of your will, their role is just to ascertain that the property will is signed by you and not by any other external party.
Seal the completed property will
Once all the formalities are completed, make sure you seal the property will within an envelope. It is mandatory for the testator to sign in the envelope as well. You must also clearly mention the date of drafting the will on the envelope.
Drafting a will is extremely important to ensure distribution of your properties in a fair and efficient manner among your successors. In India, any person who is above 18 years of age can create a property will. Your property will can be either typed or handwritten and does not require stamp papers. It is always ideal to keep your property will simple and precise without using any kind of legal terms and jargons. Additionally, it is also important to update your will as and when it is required, especially when there is a change in the market value of your properties.