A will signifies the intentions and wishes of a person regarding the distribution of their wealth and assets after their lifetime and the person who writes a Will is referred to as a testator. In India, the execution of Wills is primarily governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925 (“Act”) and the conditions which are deemed necessary for the purpose of executing the Wills in India are stipulated under the Act. Further, there are various types of wills and making a will legally binding is crucial to safeguard against disputes.

Legalizing a will adds a layer of authenticity, reducing the likelihood of challenges. It ensures that the testator’s wishes are honored, minimizing family conflicts. A registered will provide a formal record, making it harder for disgruntled parties to contest or dispute its validity. This legal sanctity not only upholds the testator’s intentions but also streamlines the distribution of assets, offering a clear and lawful resolution to potential conflicts, ultimately providing peace of mind to both the testator and their heirs.

In India, crafting a legally sound will is vital for ensuring the orderly distribution of assets. Essential requirements of a valid will in India include a clear expression of the testator’s wishes, sound mental capacity, and the presence of two witnesses. The document must be in writing, signed by the testator, or someone at their direction. Additionally, the testator and witnesses must sign in each other’s presence, and the will should be free from coercion. Understanding these requirements is fundamental in creating a comprehensive and enforceable will, providing individuals with assurance that their intentions will be honored after their demise.

8 Different Types of Wills in India

In India, there are several types of wills that individuals can create based on their specific needs and circumstances. Some common types of wills include:00

1. Testamentary Will

This is the most common type, where the testator outlines their wishes regarding the distribution of assets after their death.

2. Joint Will

A single will created by two or more individuals, typically spouses, to address shared assets and distribution.

3. Conditional Will

A Will whose legality is contingent upon the happening of an event or fulfillment of a certain condition is known as a Conditional Will as enshrined under Section 124 of the Act. Hence, the execution of such will depends on a specific condition being met, such as a beneficiary reaching a certain age.

4. Privileged Will

It is created by members of the armed forces during active duty, and is often recognized in situations of imminent peril. Privileged Will is governed under the provision of Section 65 of the Act.

5. Unprivileged Will

Unprivileged Will is governed under the provision of Section 63 of the Act. As per the said provision, an Unprivileged Will means a Will created by civilians and non-military individuals.

6. Mutual Will

Similar to a joint will, where two individuals make separate wills but agree on specific terms regarding the distribution of their assets. n simpler terms, it is an agreement entered into between two or more persons to dispose of their property to each other or to any third person as per the particular manner or mode agreed upon by the parties.

7. Holographic Will

A handwritten and entirely self-composed will, though not recognized in all states.

8. Oral Will

A will spoken y the testator before witnesses. However, oral wills are generally not valid in India.

Final Thoughts

In today’s time, creating a Will in the family has become imperative as it not only helps to avoid any potential future disputes/hurdles that may arise amongst the family members but also helps in estate planning provided that the testator has got the Will registered in India and the probate has been obtained under the relevant statute. While creating any type of Wills, the testator is supposed to be mindful of all the essential elements that are necessary to be fulfilled for the Will to be registered and valid in the eyes of law. Hence, preparing and registering any type of Will ensures that the properties of the testator are devolved as per the instructions and intentions of the person in relation to the distribution of their wealth and assets after their lifetime.

Also Read: Documents Required for Will Registration in India

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the different types of wills recognized in India?

There are various types of wills which are recognized in India, including but not limited to:

  1. Privileged wills
  2. Unprivileged wills
  3. Conditional will
  4. Mutual will
  5. Joint Will etc.

2. Do all types of wills require witness signatures to be considered valid in India?

Yes, witness signatures are essential for will registration in India, reinforcing its authenticity and legal validity in the process.

3. Are there any types of wills that bypass the need for probate in India?

A probate is optional and hence, there is no restriction in law to get probate of a Will. However, a probate is mandatory in case the Will or codicil has been made in the jurisdictional limits of any of the three cities i.e., Kolkata, Chennai or Mumbai, or, if the immovable property is situated in any of these cities.

4. Are there specific types of wills that do not require formal registration in India?

Registering a Will is not a legal requirement under the law, however, it can be optional as provided under Section 18 of the Indian Registration Act, 1908. Though it is advisable to get the Will registered in India as it not only provides a legal sanctity and greater authenticity to the document but also substantially reduces the possibilities of the family members or other relatives contesting the validity of the Will.

5. Is the presence of witnesses required for all types of wills in India?

As per the provisions of the Indian Succession Act, Wills are required to have a minimum of two witnesses attesting to the Will which also provides a legal sanctity and greater authenticity to the document