4 Estate Planning Tips For Singles
Estate planning is a critical aspect of an individual's life as it ensures fair distribution of their assets to the near and dear ones before the person bids farewell from the Earth.
Although estate planning or writing a Will is not a common practice in India, most people are aware of it. People generally don’t pay much attention to estate planning when they are young amid their busy schedules, believing they will get sufficient time later. However, in certain circumstances, it becomes necessary, especially if you are unmarried or single or want to rule out possible conflicts in the family over your assets.
Why Estate Planning Is Important For Singles?
As societal norms change and more people prefer to stay single or single because of divorce or the death of the spouse, estate planning becomes essential. Another critical aspect is, unlike families where other members know about the assets and liabilities, in the case of singles, there is the risk that nobody knows about the assets the person owns, and that can go to waste or can be poached by someone after the person dies.
Vishnu Chundi, founder and CEO of AasaanWill, says, “For a single person, estate planning is crucial, especially if they have assets and properties they wish to pass on to specific individuals or organisations.” So, it is always better that the assets go to those beneficiaries one wishes to bequeath the assets.
While doing estate planning, says advocate Aastik Dhingra of Dhingra Legal Associates, “One must ensure that the expenses of the present and future are met, and no one compromises the same, and one must ensure one’s upkeep. Furthermore, one must set aside a certain sum of money for the last rituals, and if and whatever money is left after that, it can be bequeathed to any person or organisation. A significant factor in this is that the Will should be kept confidential at all times.”
Who Is The Legal Heir?
Chundi explains, “In the event of a single individual passing away without leaving a valid will, the distribution of their estate follows a specific legal framework. Their property would be distributed to the deceased’s parents. If one of the parents is also deceased, the living parent would become the inheritor. Should both parents pass away simultaneously, the estate would be divided equally among the deceased’s siblings. Nevertheless, if there are no surviving parents, siblings, or the offspring of siblings, then the entire estate would pass to the agnates.”
But, for a person who is divorced or a married individual who does not have children, he says, “the kids with their former spouse would be recognised as the lawful inheritors according to the Class I legal heirs outlined in the Hindu Succession Act of 1956. And for a married individual in India who does not have any children, the legal heirs typically include the spouse and other Class I heirs, such as the individual’s parents and siblings.” So, it is crucial to plan the asset distribution in a lifetime to avert any dispute in the family of class I, II, and III heirs.
How To Do The Estate Planning?
Estate planning may sound complex, but it is not difficult. Anyone can start by listing all the assets and liabilities, ranging from the house and property, investments, belongings, bank accounts, and insurance policies to the debts, if any. Let us see how to do it.
List All That You Have: Estate planning starts with a listing of all the assets and liabilities, all the assets one owns, and the debt, if there are any, at the time of planning. It should be a comprehensive list. The person making the Will should be careful not to mention any asset or liability from saying.
Divide The Assets And Mention Who Will Get What: The person who makes the Will is called the ‘testator’. After listing, the next step is the division of assets. The testator should write the division of assets and to whom the assets are intended to be passed on. There is no rule for distributing the assets. One may divide as per one’s wish.
Make A Will: Finally, when it is all written clearly, one can turn this paper into a Will by singing it in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses also need to sign the Will in the testator’s presence. It is a mandatory step in Will writing to make it valid. Anyone 18 years old, with a sane mind, can write the Will. According to Chundi, “The best time to write a Will is when one has begun acquiring assets of value or when they have dependents under their care.”
Dhingra says that Probate, a Will authenticated in the court, makes it bullet-proof as no one can challenge its authenticity, which is advisable but not mandatory. Only those Wills that are made within the jurisdictions of the High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras, probate is compulsory but not in other Indian states.
Choose An Executor: Estate planning is not complete by writing the Will until an executor is assigned to execute it as per the deceased person’s wishes. An executor executes the Will after the person (testator) dies as per his/her wishes. So, choosing the executor is also crucial. In the absence of an executor, the court appoints an executor, but executing the Will may take longer.
So, while you live as per your wishes and collect possessions and property, etc., plan that these remain in good hands after you are gone and reach the person you wanted as a beneficiary of your estate.
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