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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.




3 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 3 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.


3 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 3 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.

Sensex, Nifty in no man’s land: Weekly Market Report
Watch for a break below 5,820 and a break above 5,900 on the Nifty for future direction
The Indian market closed in the green for the second week in a row on positive global cues. Corporate developments also supported the sentiment. Investors will focus on quarterly corporate results, as the earnings season kicks off next week.
The market closed in the positive on three of the five trading days with the Sensex gaining 100 points (0.52%) to 19,496 and the Nifty ended the week at 5,868, up 26 points (0.44%). Watch for a break below 5,820 and a break above 5,900 on the Nifty for future direction.
The market closed higher on Monday on support from rate-sensitive sectors. Selling in heavyweights by foreign investors led the indices lower on Tuesday. The market settled nearly 1.5% down on Wednesday as higher crude oil price, weak global cues and the decline in the rupee resulted in across-the-board selling.
The market snapped its two-day decline as buying in index stocks in the late session lifted the benchmarks higher on Thursday. The market settled higher on Friday but tapered its gains in the second half of the session on profit booking and a weakening rupee.
BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (up 6%) and BSE Healthcare (up 3%) were the top sectoral gainers while BSE PSU and BSE Bankex (down 2% each) were the top losers in the week.
The top gainers on the Sensex were ITC, Tata Motors (up 5% each), GAIL India, Hindustan Unilever (4% each) and Jindal Steel & Power (up 3%). The key losers were ONGC (down 4%), Tata Steel, State Bank of India, HDC (down 3% each) and Bajaj Auto (down 2%).
Ranbaxy Laboratories (up 11%), Lupin (up 7%), ITC (up 6%), Tata Motors (up 5%) and GAIL India (up 4%) were the major gainers on the Nifty. The losers were led by ONGC (down 5%), Punjab National Bank (down 4%), Power Grid Corporation, Tata Steel and HDFC (down 3% each).
India’s manufacturing sector activity remained broadly flat in June as new orders declined for the first time in over four years. The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers index for the manufacturing industry stood at 50.3 in June, slightly higher than 50.1 in May. However, output witnessed a decline for the second consecutive month.
Growth in eight infrastructure industries slowed to 2.3% in May mainly due to contraction in crude oil, natural gas, coal and fertiliser output. The combined index of these industries—coal, crude oil, natural gas, petroleum refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity—was at 159.2 in May 2013, according to official data.
The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers’ index for the services industry fell from May’s three-month high of 53.6 to 51.7 in June. The fall has been attributed to a decline in new business orders and subdued economic conditions.
President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday signed the ordinance on Food Security to give the nation’s two-third population the right to get 5 kg of foodgrain every month at highly subsidised rates of Re1-Rs3 per kg. The Food Security programme will be the biggest in the world with the government spending an estimated Rs125,000 crore annually on supply of about 62 million tonnes of rice, wheat and coarse cereals to 67% of the population.
In corporate news, Anglo-Dutch consumer goods major Unilever Plc has increased its stake in the Indian arm Hindustan Unilever (HUL) to 67.28%, following an open offer which commenced on 21st June and closed on 4th July. However, Unilever fell short of its target as it had planned to hike the stake in HUL to 75% through the open offer from the earlier stake of 52.48%.
In international news, US employers added 195,000 new jobs last month. The unemployment rate held steady at 7.6%, as more people entered the workforce, the US Labor Department said.


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