A will is a legal document that directs the disposition of belongings after a person’s death and is, by its nature, ambulatory and revocable during life as well. As a result, it is a complete statement of a man’s mind or last Will regarding how he would like his property disposed of after his death.

How to register a will in India?

In India, registration is ensured by the Registration Act, 1908. According to section 18 of the Registration Act, the registration of certain documents is optional. Thus, wills are covered under clause (e) of said section 18.

There is no requirement for Wills to be registered, and it is up to the testator to decide whether to do so. A Will should always be registered, however. Registering a Will has the following advantages:

  • A will registration provides strong legal evidence against challenges about the soundness of mind of the testator (as a result of illness, alcohol, or medications). The ability to draft a Will and then register it is unlikely for someone with mental incapacity.
  • By registering the Will, the chances of it being forged or the signature of the testator being faked are minimized. However, other challenges remain, such as being signed under undue influence, fraud, etc.
  • Another advantage of registration is that the Will is protected at the Registrar’s office. A testator or his agent may withdraw a will from the Registrar during his lifetime.
  • Only a registered Will can prove the authenticity of a Will if a natural heir is denied in it.
  • Registrants are also advised to register if any of the beneficiaries are likely to be unhappy with the Will and will challenge it.

What is the process of registering a will in India?

  1. First, the testator must visit the office of the sub-registrar of the area where he/she resides or whose jurisdiction the majority of the estate falls in in order to register a Will. An original Will that is presented to a government official in person adds to its trustworthiness and reliability.
  2. A will can be registered at any time because of its delicate nature, and a testator may not want to disclose it to their contemporaries for security or privacy reasons. A will cannot be registered within a fixed period of time, unlike other documents which must be registered within four months of execution.
  3. In order to register a document, the Registrar must carefully examine it and ensure there are no legal errors.
  4. Registration is scheduled in the Sub-Registrar office after the Will has been scrutinized.
  5. There is a Nominal Government Registration Fee that varies from state to state.
  6. At least two attesting witnesses must accompany the testator to the Sub-Registrar’s office.
  7. One week after the process is completed, the Registered copy of the Will can be collected.

Procedural Requirements under Indian Law

Understanding the difference between a privileged and unprivileged Will is critical to determining the procedural requirements of a Will under The Indian Succession Act, 1925.

Privileged Wills

A privileged Will may only be made by: (a) a soldier/airman engaged in an expedition or engaged in actual warfare, or (b) a mariner at sea. In order to make a privileged will, you must follow the following rules:

  1. If the will is written in the testator’s handwriting, it does not need to be witnessed.
  2. A document drafted by someone else must, even if not attested, be signed by the testator.
  3. A will that is not signed by the testator must prove that it was written in accordance with his instructions.
  4. The instructions of the armed forces may be regarded as the legal will of the person who wrote them down but could not register them as a will.
  5. Upon making a privileged will, an oral will becomes null after one month.

Unprivileged Wills

Everyone except soldiers engaged in war may make an unprivileged Will. An unprivileged Will must meet the following procedural requirements:

  1. Unprivileged wills must be in writing.
  2. A will must be signed by the testator, or the testator can direct someone else to sign it.
  3. In order for a will to be valid, it needs to be attested by two or more witnesses who can provide evidence that the testator made a sign in their presence.
  4. Attestation does not need to be unique.

Safekeeping of the Will

Once the will has been registered, it is essential that it is kept in a safe place so the beneficiaries can easily access it after the Testator’s death. For the safekeeping of Wills, some countries have national depository services, while in others, there are private institutions. The testator is responsible for ensuring the safe custody of his will since India does not have such facilities.

Additionally, the testator should make as many copies of the Will as the number of beneficiaries, so that each beneficiary can receive a copy. In that case, the Will should state “This Will has been prepared in three copies.”. All three copies are originals. A copy of the Will is handed over to each beneficiary immediately after execution.”

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