I am overwhelmed by many requests my friends made asking me to write about “How to make a will”, and by the confidence they showed in me when they made these requests. What does a writer need after all… a willing reader. I take up this task with humility.
The topic will need many WhatsApp posts, because on a medium that measures 3 inches by 5 inches (or a little more), one should restrict to about 400 words per post. In these, I propose to raise questions that will help readers to find their own solutions.
The decision whether to make a will at all, and if so, its contents, the properties it gives, and to whom, is a very personal one. Perhaps a person might consult his spouse or other close relatives before taking it. The law should not, and does not, interfere in these choices. It states very few restrictions on disposal of property. But it prescribes conditions that must be fulfilled to make the will effective. I will state some choices and their legal aspects.
Any discussion about succession to property after death, or about wills, cannot happen unless I say someone has died. If I say “if you die”, you will not like it at all. If I say “if X dies”, the discussion becomes impersonal. So I propose to use the words “after me”. Sometimes I will be a man, sometimes a woman. Sometimes, I will be unmarried, married, widowed or divorced. I might have children, one-two-or more, all sons, all daughters, or a mix of the two. All this is imaginary, but it will make discussion simple. Please bear with me.
My posts will appear in plain, and not legal, language. I also believe that a will must be written by its maker in his own expression. (He is called the testator). Those who prefer the legalese, can adopt it.
Yes, the posts will refer to the person as ‘he’. This is better than using the word he/she or his/her each time. ‘He’ may be read as ‘she’ in appropriate places, that is also what our law says.
In my writing, I will be sometimes be a commoner, sometimes the lawyer. Please identify my roles.
I cannot give tax advice. Any decision about transfer of property, whether while alive or thereafter, involves tax implications. Please take appropriate advice from an appropriate adviser.
What I will write in my posts are my views. It is desirable to take legal advice before taking any decision.
Next: List of properties