Moneylife Events
Moneylife Foundation event on “How to write your own Will”

In an interactive two-hour session, advocate Bapoo Malcolm explained to a packed house the practical aspects of preparing a will

At Moneylife Foundation’s 171st event, Bapoo Malcolm, an experienced advocate practising civil and criminal law, spoke on the basic requirements of making a Will. Many delay in making a Will for many reasons. One of the reasons could be that there are many misconceptions. “A Will does not need to be registered, for that matter, even a handwritten Will written on a simple piece of paper will suffice,” explained Mr Malcolm. However, the Will should be legible and clear to understand, he emphasised. Not waiting for the last moment, one should start by preparing a simple Will, which can be updated any time. “At any point of time you should have a valid Will,” he said.


“A Will needs to be simple. You just have to give specific instructions about what has to be done with what you own. Just specify the property and the person,” explained Mr Malcolm. In order to create a clear Will you could even have a lawyer draft it, but ask him the meaning of every word, he said. “This may be your first Will but a lawyer would be going through over a dozen wills every month and would know the specifics,” he mentioned.


On clarifying whether a Will needs to be registered or not, he said “Registration is a grey area, mainly because if you then wish to make a second Will, you may not have the time to register it. If you realise the day you die that a relative is useless, you may not be able register this second Will. Then does the unregistered Will have more value than the registered one? Registration takes care of the safety issue. An unregistered Will could easily be lost. At least if it is registered you know that it is always in some government ward”


“A Will has to be interpreted. So it will all be interpreted according to the word of the law, which may not assign the same meaning as you intended.” Therefore, one should specify everything in the Will that would be subject to interpretation. For example, while mentioning names it is important to specify the relationship along with the date of birth of the person as there could be common names. Also if you wish to intentionally leave someone out of your Will, especially if it is a close family member, it is better to mention the name in the Will, if not, the person may contest the Will by saying you have forgotten their name, he explained.


Participants were also unclear about whom to appoint as an executor. “Without the executor, who will execute the Will? If this is not done, the court will appoint someone and there is no need for this,” he said. It is advised to take a written confirmatory note from your executor that he would execute the Will. But an executor can back out any time. Therefore, choosing a beneficiary as your executor could ensure timely execution of your Will. On a query to how many executors can one have, Mr Malcolm replied, “One can pick any number of executors, the law does not specify any limit. Ideally, three to four executors are advisable.” Also one could put a clause in the Will, that an executor can appoint another executor if he/she would be unable to execute the Will.


During the course of the session, Mr Malcolm spoke of the basic components of a Will as well as terms such as testator, executor, codicil, testamentary guardian and a detailed discussion on probate of a Will. He covered issues related to Wills, like registration, litigation possibilities, witnesses, executors, intestate problems. He also answered the queries of Moneylife Foundation members who raised their doubts.




4 years ago

I just read your post in Money-Life.
Nothing has been said about following aspects
1. Need for witnesses, how many and what details about them are to be put in the will
2. Doctor's certificate for mental fitness
3. On what paper should it be recorded( legal, plain paper)
4. In case of childless couples with no trustworthy relatives, who should be appointed as executor in case of an eventuality such as accidental death of both.
With regards,


Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to sunilotiv 4 years ago

All this and more has been covered in this session on Wills and others. Do sign up for moneylife foundation's FREE membership. You can listen to the full video when it is uploaded this week.


4 years ago


Every time I read about such an useful Lecture conducted by Money Life, I invariably wish that I were in Mumbai. Mumbaiites are very lucky.

Malcom Sir has said that “Registration is a grey area, mainly because if you then wish to make a second Will, you may not have the time to register it".

Recently I checked with the Registrar here in Bangalore. She categorically said that registration of any will is optional and in case a first will is registered subsequent wills need not necessarily be registered as long as it is specified clearly in those wills that it supersedes the original registered will [giving full particulars and reference details of the registered will].

Your valued comments on this Sir?

I found the information you gave about executors very useful and educative. One does not get such interesting information so easily and so lucidly. I was under the impression that executor cannot be a beneficiary as there will be conflict of interest. That is what someone told me.


Mohan Raj


Harish Kohli

In Reply to crmohanraj 4 years ago

CRMohanraj has raised a good question about registration of Wills. If the registration is beneficial but not necessary, then a Will written subsequent to the registered one should be binding. Perhaps a clause stating this could be inserted in the Will itself.
There is always a possibility of the wordings in the Will having some ambiguity. For greater clarity is it acceptable to have a preamble in the Will to state the spirit,the intention and the purpose of distributing the assessts. This may help if any of the beneficiaries is given more than the others.

Senior Citizens: Post-Retirement Planning Option for Seniors

An exclusive workshop for senior citizens on planning finances for post-retirement life keeping the corpus safe and growing

Moneylife Foundation conducted an exclusive workshop for senior citizens on planning their finances post retirement and being safe with their money decisions. The session was conducted by Debashis Basu and Sucheta Dalal, founder trustees of Moneylife Foundation....

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Buying stocks: What you need to know to invest safely

Moneylife Foundation conducted its first exclusive workshop on investing in stocks. Debashis Basu, editor, Moneylife, took the participants through how and why many investors lose money in stocks and addressed how to pick stocks safely

Moneylife Foundation conducted its 170th and its first exclusive workshop on investing in stocks. At a packed session titled “Buying Stocks Safely” at the Moneylife Knowledge Centre, Debashis Basu, editor, Moneylife, took the participants through how a why many investors lose money in stocks and addressed many myths revolving around investing in stocks. He also highlighted some facts about investing in stocks and how one can develop a method for investing in stocks safely.
One of the main reasons investors lose money, explained Mr Basu, is because many blindly follow tips and advice that are freely available. Many do not follow the process or have a discipline to cross-check the facts and invest directly. Others give into their emotions of panic, greed or overconfidence. Some may have done a little reading and feel that they have a method of investing, said Mr Basu. Giving an example, he said that if an investor is looking for high dividend yield stocks it may be good but the price may not appreciate. Many investors look for big blue-chip companies. Though these companies may be fundamentally strong they are highly priced and thus price appreciation would be low. Some investors chase momentum, but this leads to high risk as well. Many do not know when to exit, leading to a high loss. Many look at investing in IPOs. There was a time people made money in IPOs, that time is gone. Most IPOs are avoidable as they are always priced too high, cautioned Mr Basu. All the IPOs of the last four to five years, including PSUs, have performed terribly.
Many have false beliefs of the stock market such as inflation and GDP is correlated to the stock market movement. All these can be both right and wrong as certain rules work under certain conditions. As far as GDP growth versus stocks is concerned, there is little or no correlation. Before investing, one also needs to accept the fact that stocks are risky. “Stocks fetch higher returns in the long-term but can fall by 30%-70% in one year; may take years to recover. It takes years to understand this. You don’t need to focus on the price when you are analysing the business” said Mr Basu. If the business is good prices will appreciate over the long-term. “Daily movement of price is pure noise,” he explained.
Two factors that essentially drive the market are expected profit growth and valuation. Explaining these two factors he said, “Earnings growth determines the trajectory of the stock, whereas, valuation determines the profit or loss. If one can pick a stock with high earnings growth and which is under-valuated, you can almost never end up with a loss.” Great businesses at low prices over a long period of time is what one should look for, he advised.
 Mr Basu also advised on buying stocks, for example, one should look to buy good companies in market panic. He also mentioned which sectors can do well giving India’s consumption demand. “The maximum gains have come from the consumption sector”, he said. If one does not wish to try and time the market, one could invest is through a systematic investment plan.
As important as buying is, when to sell is a common dilemma faced by investors. Mr Basu informed the audience on how to avoid making bad sell decisions. “If a stock has fallen 30%-40% in a fundamentally good company you should not sell unless you need the money, on the other hand you should invest more,” he said.
The session was followed by a interactive question and answer session where Moneylife Foundation member raised their queries. On a question relating to whether one should try momentum investing, Mr Basu said, “Momentum investing is for traders. It is difficult for an average saver to be a successful trade because they would have to unlearn a lot of things. To be a successful trader one needs to overcome a lot of emotional biases”
This session was attended by savers across categories. If you would like to be informed of many more such events in future become a Moneylife Foundation member. Click here to register. (Join Moneylife Foundation)




4 years ago

Enjoyed watching on Moneylife TV. Ever so grateful. Thank you Mr. Basu!


4 years ago

Very good Article, containing lessons for wise investing. In the end, Investors always likes certain scrips identified for investment. It will be nice if Shri Debashis Basu periodically shares his expertise regarding particular good scrips, which one could consider for investment. Thanks.

Suiketu Shah

4 years ago

Excellent topic by ml what investors find difficult to understand for yrs together inview of misleading methods to buy right shares by so-called share experts.A must-watch on mltv for those who missed it.

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