This article appeared in MoneyControl…long ago..I thought it is worth a repeat..
Why do people postpone making their will? They think they will never die? Or they are sure that all their heirs know about their inner desires? Well read on…
The current generation of clients whom I meet is inheriting nice big round amounts of money. However since their own salaries are far, far higher than their parents, the amounts do not look big. This means the `inheritors` may feel bitter about some inheritance arrangements, but it is not leading to too much of litigation. Also, making a `Will` seems to be a simple job; just download a Will, fill in the details and your Will is ready. Or so you think.
But let us look at what could be the potential problems in the Will that you create.
I have seen horror stories in the Wills and inheritances that have happened, let`s take a look at them!
Scenario 1: One child depriving the other children of their rightful share: I have seen this happen, especially if the other children did not know about the existence of the asset. Other scenarios are other children are magnanimous to let it happen, they are too old and weak to fight, or they are worried about that affecting the relationship, etc. In case you wish to make sure that some of your children do not deprive the other children of the money, make sure you say it in your Will, loudly!
Scenario 2: My brother is not even bothered about my father, I have to look after him, and so his house in Santacruz should belong to me. Excellent thought. But sister, did you know that as soon as the sun rises after your father`s funeral, your brother can go to court and claim `undue influence`. Especially now that the flat is worth Rs. 1.7 crores! Though it sounds `justified` giving all your assets to one child who took care of you may not be a great idea. Pay the `caretaking` child a nice salary : after all you will pay a full time nurse, will you not !
Let us say you think your `sacrificing daughter` deserves a salary of Rs 30,000 a month that will amount to Rs 360,000 a year, for 5 years that will amount to only Rs 18 lakh, not Rs. 1.7 crores as she claims!
Scenario 3: Will my second wife leave all the assets to the children of my first wife? If you are into `TV serial kind of relationships` or a simple second marriage, ensure that the children of the first wife, the first wife, the second wife, and the children of the second wife are not in any kind of a financial `joint relationship`. It does not work. Simple, but true, you need to separate them and your Will has to be well drafted.
Scenario 4: Your daughter wants to move in with you to look after you. How noble! But after 3 months she asks to be made a joint owner in your property. You do not like it, but grudgingly you oblige. Your daughter is of course a sweet heart. And she cannot say no. In fact she had `forgotten` to tell you that she is a guarantor to her `artist` son`s TV serial venture which ran aground 2 years back. Can the bank start chasing YOUR PROPERTY? You bet!
Scenario 5: You spent Rs 5 lakhs on your son`s education and Rs 12 lakhs on your daughter`s wedding expenses. Your son wants to know how are you planning to leave the house to them `equally`- after all there was no equality while spending! So he wants a bigger share in the inheritance. You do not need to fret and fume, just communicate.
Scenario 6: You think your `qualified` son can do with a smaller inheritance than your daughter who married the high school sweet heart. Your son is doing very well for himself, likes his sister, but knows that brother-in-law is a bum. Well ask your son, he might think differently! He might legitimately say, `look give me more, I will be there for her when my sister needs me` or say `Are you punishing me for doing well in life and leaving your money to that bum!`. Communicate with your children, do not assume.
Scenario 7: You loaned Rs 10 lakh to your son when he bought that penthouse, he knew you had the money and you gave. Now your son of course did repay in the first year very promptly, second year a little less promptly and third year only 8 cheques came. Now he is avoiding your calls! What do you do? If your relationship is important, bite the bullet. Most importantly let the other children know it, and ensure that this is mentioned in the will; now dividing the rest of the assets equally is unfair. Keep track of all your investments, loans, etc by downloading free (trial) accounting software from www.myirisplus.com
There are of course many circumstances in life which have not been enumerated here and could be unique to your case. It is necessary that you consider a financial planner for deciding how your will should be made and then a lawyer to actually draft the same for you especially it there are non-family beneficiaries. Some simple solutions that I have seen include buying a life insurance policy early on in life and making the appropriate person the beneficiary. For e.g. a client has taken an endowment policy and made his driver a beneficiary – in fact he has assigned the policy to his driver. What is the logic? Well the client is an entrepreneur with a net worth of Rs 60 crores, but he is not sure that his wife and daughter will have the magnanimity to give Rs 10 lakhs to his driver so this solution.
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