Will

What Is Will Registration And Why Do You Need It?

calendar03 Jun, 2023
timeReading Time: 9 Minutes
What Is Will Registration And Why Do You Need It?

Will registration is a legal process in India where a person can register their will with the concerned authorities. This ensures that the will is legally binding and can be enforced without any issues. Will registration is an important step for anyone who wants to ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes after their death. In this article, we will discuss what will registration is and why it is important in India.

What is Will Registration?

Will registration is a process where a person’s will is recorded and verified by the concerned authorities. The process involves submitting the original will to the Registrar of Wills in the respective jurisdiction. The will is then recorded in the official records, and a copy of the will is kept with the Registrar. The Registrar then issues a certificate of registration, which confirms that the will has been registered.

Key Benefits of Will Registration

  • Ensuring that the Will is Legally Binding

When you register your will, it becomes a legal document that can be enforced in court. This means that your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets will be legally binding, and your family and loved ones will not face any legal issues in the future. This is particularly important if you have a large estate or complex family relationship.

  • Avoiding Disputes Among Family Members

One of the most significant benefits of will registration is that it helps to avoid disputes among family members. If a will is not registered, there may be concerns about its authenticity, and family members may dispute the validity of the will. This can lead to lengthy legal battles and can cause significant stress and financial burden for all involved. By registering your will, you can avoid these disputes altogether and ensure that your assets are distributed as per your wishes.

  • Protection of Property Rights

In India, property rights are a significant issue, and property disputes can often lead to legal battles that last for years. By registering your will, you can protect your property rights and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. This will help to avoid any legal battles that may arise due to inheritance issues.

  • Peace of Mind

Lastly, registering your will provides peace of mind. By setting out your wishes in a legally binding document, you can be sure that your loved ones will be provided for after your death. This can help to alleviate any stress or anxiety that you may have about the future and provide you with peace of mind that your affairs are in order.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Will Registration

Advantages Explanation
  Legal Validity Once registered, the will has legal standing, and the instructions mentioned in it are duly bound by the law.
  Peace of Mind Registering a will offers peace of mind that the assets and financial affairs will be managed according to your wishes after your demise.  
  Convenience It saves the beneficiaries time and potential legal hassles by having the will registered with the proper authorities and declaring the property ownership legally.  
  Confidentiality Registered wills are kept confidential and not available for public scrutiny, thereby offering additional privacy.  
  Cost-effective Registering a will helps you avoid paying extra legal fees that might arise after your demise.  
Disadvantages   Explanation
  Inflexibility Any changes to registration will require reregistering the document, which can be time-consuming and expensive.  
  Fees There might be fees associated with registering a will, depending on the jurisdiction.  
  Public Record When you register your will, it becomes a matter of public record, and anyone can read the contents of the will by requesting access to the Register.  
  Legal Obligations Once a will is registered, there may be additional legal obligations to do so, like obtaining valuation and estate administration.  

Four Reasons Why Will Registration Is Crucial in India

  • Avoiding Probate Litigation

Probate litigation is a common dispute in India where family members claim a larger share of the deceased’s assets than they are entitled to. In the absence of proper documentation, such as a will, the court proceedings can take years to resolve and lead to significant costs. In some cases, the cost of litigation even exceeds the value of the estate.

Will registration ensure that an individual’s final wishes are recorded legally and eliminate ambiguity surrounding the distribution of assets? A registered will make it easier for loved ones to carry out the final wishes of the deceased as it eliminates any need for probate court proceedings. This can save significant costs and avoid lengthy legal battles that may arise if a will is contested.

  • Clarity and Certainty

India has a large population, and the distribution of property is complex, often leading to family disputes. Will registration provides clarity and certainty on the distribution of assets, thus minimizing the chance of confusion or conflict among family members? An individual can ensure that their assets are divided among their loved ones according to their wishes by registering their will.

Additionally, will registration ensures that an individual’s wishes are respected and adhered to. The possibility of disinheritance and asset distribution as intended in the will also provide beneficiaries with peace of mind and clarity about the future of their assets.

  • Protecting the Rights of Minor Beneficiaries

Minors, by law, cannot inherit or own property in India. A registered will allows individuals to nominate a trustee who can manage and distribute the assets to minor beneficiaries until they attain the legal age of ownership.

As minors cannot legally represent themselves in court, their nominees or trustees confer the right to represent their interests while ensuring the inheritance of assets as per the testator’s wishes.

  • Avoiding Fraud and Inconsistencies

Frauds and inconsistencies are common in India, and wills are not immune to such problems. An unregistered will faced with suspicions of legacy distribution or inheritance issues may be subjected to forensic analysis and questioned in the probate courts. Proving the authenticity of an unregistered will can often lead to prolonged litigation or even a complete deviation from the testator’s desires.

Having a registered will that is considered legally binding makes it relatively harder to dispute its authenticity. The legal recording process includes the signature of the witnesses, which inhibits any potential fraud or inconsistencies. A registered will helps beneficiaries save time, money, and stress in proving the legal validity of the will.

  • Final Thoughts

Will registration is necessary for India because the process provides clarity, avoids legal problems and litigation, protects the rights of minor beneficiaries, and eliminates the possibility of fraud, forgery, and inconsistency. In conclusion, taking the time to register and draft a legally binding will ensures that the testator’s final wishes can be carried out smoothly and is palpable for family members that will remain. It provides a sense of security and ensures that one’s legacy is preserved and passed on as intended.

Acts and Legal Provisions for Will Registration

The following are some Acts and Legal Provisions that are related to Will Registration in India:

  • The Registration Act, 1908

The Registration Act, of 1908, governs the registration of wills in India. Section 17 of the Act makes it necessary to register a will if the property value being distributed through the will exceeds Rs. 100. Registered wills are considered as evidence in the court of law, and it becomes easier for the beneficiaries to claim their rights to the property.

  • The Indian Succession Act, 1925

The Indian Succession Act, of 1925, is the most comprehensive Act related to wills and estates in India. It governs the distribution of assets in a will, the validity of a will, and other related matters. As per Section 57 of this Act, a will can be registered either by the testator or by any person who has the authority with the written consent of the testator. Similarly, Section 213 mandates that probate (a legal document that grants the executor the power to administer the estate of the testator) must be obtained from a competent court if the will is for immovable property, in case of non-registration.

  • The Hindu Succession Act, 1956

The Hindu Succession Act, of 1956, governs the distribution of assets in a will for people belonging to the Hindu religion. According to this act, it is not necessary to have a registered will. A will can be an oral or written statement, and it can be executed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses. If a person dies without making a will, the property will be inherited by the Hindu Succession Act.

  • The Indian Registration (Amendment) Act, 2001

The Indian Registration (Amendment) Act of 2001 introduced various changes in the way wills are registered in India. This amendment mandates the registration of wills in electronic form to promote transparency and efficiency. It also permits the filing of wills through electronic means and prescribes penalties for non-registration of wills.

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000

The Information Technology Act, of 2000, provides legal recognition to electronic signatures and digital documents, including electronic wills. According to this act, an electronic will is valid and admissible in court if it is signed using a digital signature and conforms to the requirements of the Indian Registration Act, of 1908[1].

Procedure for Will Registration

The procedure for will registration in India is simple, and the following steps must be followed to register a will:

  • Draft the Will

The first step in registering a will is to draft the will. It is essential to have clear instructions for the distribution of one’s property and assets.

  • Make an Appointment and Sign the Will

Once the will is drafted, an appointment must be made with the Sub-Registrar or Registrar’s office to get the will registered. The testator and two witnesses must be present, and all signatures must be affixed in their presence.

  • Pay the Fees

The registration process fees must be paid by government regulations. It varies from state to state.

  • Obtain the Registered Copy

Once the registration process is completed, the testator will be given a copy of the registered will. The Registrar will retain the original will.

Thus, Will Registration is essential to ensure that the wishes of the testator are respected and that the beneficiaries receive the bequests without any hindrances. It is, therefore, necessary to comply with the legal provisions and acts that govern the registration process. The government has made the process easier by introducing online registration to promote transparency and efficiency. A will provides peace of mind knowing that one’s legacy will be distributed as desired, and its registration is a crucial step in protecting the rights of the beneficiaries.

Case Laws Related to Will Registration in India

There are many landmark judgments related to will registration in India. Some of the significant case laws related to will registration are as follows:

  • Pritam Singh v. Suraj Bhan Singh

In the case of Pritam Singh v. Suraj Bhan Singh, the Supreme Court of India held that a will has to be registered to be legally valid. A registered will is a document that clearly states the wishes of the deceased person, and it is admissible in court as evidence.

  • Bishundeo Narain v. Seogeni Rai

In the case of Bishundeo Narain v. Seogeni Rai, the Supreme Court of India held that the registration of a will is not mandatory under the Indian Registration Act, 1908. However, if a will is not registered, it may be difficult to prove its authenticity in court.

  • Muhammad Yusuf v. Rajab Ali

In the case of Muhammad Yusuf v. Rajab Ali, the Allahabad High Court held that a will is a document that requires a high degree of proof to establish its authenticity. The court also held that even a small discrepancy in the will can render it invalid.

  • Dharmodas Ghose v. Bank of Bengal

In the case of Dharmodas Ghose v. Bank of Bengal, the Privy Council held that a will is a document that cannot be changed or amended after it has been executed. The court also held that a will can only be revoked by another will or by a codicil.

  • Narasayya v. Narasimhulu

In the case of Narasayya v. Narasimhulu, the Andhra Pradesh High Court held that the registration of a will is not mandatory if it is executed in the presence of at least two witnesses. The court also held that a will can be considered valid even if it is not registered, provided it meets all the legal requirements.

  • Thiruvengada Pillai v. Navaneethammal (2019)

In this case, the Madras High Court held that registration of a will after the death of the testator is not a mere formality and such registration cannot be allowed.

  • Hiralal Chaudhuri v. Hari Singh (1968)

The Supreme Court held that the registration of a will without the sound mind of the testator cannot be valid.

  • Angurana v. Rampal (2011)

In this case, the Delhi High Court held that a will registered outside the jurisdiction of the registering authority of the testator’s residence is not valid.

  • Jagdish Thanvi v. Padamchand (2017)

The Rajasthan High Court held that a probate court has jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the validity of registration of a will under section 57 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.

  • R. Dhanalakshmi v C.V. Motilal Nehru (2015)

The Madras High Court held that the testator’s signature on the will must be genuine and should not be forged and that the registration authority must ensure that the testator has signed the will freely and voluntarily.

Thus, will registration is a legal process in India that formalizes the last wishes of a deceased person regarding their property or estate. The Indian judiciary has interpreted and applied the laws related to will registration in various cases, and the above-mentioned case laws are some of the most significant ones. People should ensure that they will meet all the legal requirements and are registered to ensure that their final wishes are carried out as per their instructions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, will registration is an important step for anyone who wants to ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes after their death. It provides several benefits, including ensuring that the will is legally binding, avoiding disputes among family members, protecting property rights, and providing peace of mind. Therefore, we recommend that everyone should consider registering their will to ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes.

Read Our Article: What Is The Procedure For A Will Registration?

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