Importance of Making a Will in this Coronavirus pandemic
Legal Drafting Covid-19

Importance of Making a Will in this Coronavirus pandemic

We are all doing our best for the underprivileged but we also need to start thinking about our own family. What will happen if any one of us gets infected by coronavirus? Then what? Ever thought of that?

The graph of total cases is shooting up and there is no peak in sight. This is a grim situation and we need to be prepared for the worst-case scenarios. With lock down easing out and no vaccines available yet to control Coronavirus, there is more probability of virus infection especially from asymptomatic cases.

The Government has educated us sufficiently with the do’s and don’ts in this pandemic. We cannot waste time on what the Central or the State Governments are doing/ not doing. We are all doing our best for the underprivileged but we also need to start thinking about our own family. What will happen if any one of us gets infected by coronavirus? Then what? Ever thought of that?

What to do before going for a test?

If you test positive, your whole house will be fumigated and sealed. You should put all your valuables in the locker or in a safe locked almirah before going for the test. Your family too will be quarantined or taken to an Isolation Ward. In the worst situation, someone may die. If you are only a couple living here with your children abroad/ away, the situation is even more alarming.

Scenario Analysis

CASE 1: You are admitted to a COVID-19 Isolation Ward.

What you need to take with you? Here is a list:

  1. Mobile, Charger, earphones, Routine medicines, Change of clothes for 14 days
  2. Your money requirements – cash and/ or ATM/ Credit/ Debit Cards
  3. Mediclaim Insurance policy/ Medical Cashless Card – Keep it handy.

Please note Term Insurance plans includes COVID-19 in its insurance as there is no such exclusion; while critical illness/ dreaded disease/ WOP riders may not include COVID-19 as not mentioned. Please immediately take a COVID-19 insurance now.

If you are sole earning member, make provisions so that you share your ATM Pin with your spouse/ family member and also leave a few blank cheques signed by you.

If you have a pet, please arrange for its shelter with some PETA or friends in case your spouse also need to be admitted.

CASE 2: You die due to COVID-19 in an Isolation centre.

You leave your spouse alone now. Your body is also not handed over to your kin and cremated/ buried directly. Your relatives do not meet your spouse for the fear of infection.

Make your spouse aware of this brutal fact today and appraise him/ her of all the current financial conditions. Leave enough cash at home. Please share all your passwords, Keypad/ Mobile lock pattern or save everything in a note for them in the eventuality of your death. You will have nothing to lose in case you remain alive, as all is with you. Creating mental strength awareness is very essential at this moment. Your children may be away or out of India and cannot come to their mother nor can they take her along with them. This situation remains for at least next 6 months. We have to be prepared.

CASE 3: Both of you die.

The most unfortunate event is when, without being prepared, you leave behind all your wealth. It might be that for 3-4 months nobody is allowed to visit your house, neither your children are able to return. The crux issue is what will they do in absence of any instruction?  It is your immovable/ movable properties including your financial wealth that ultimately belongs to your children. Will it suffice if you keep some signed blank cheques for them, which will help them to at least get the money in your Bank accounts transferred their Bank Accounts on their return? Nominating your next of kin in your bank accounts is the best practice. If you have not done then you should do it now if you can access your bank branch.

It becomes very practical to make a list of all your important documents, Bank accounts, Bank Locker with their key location for the ease of your children. The list can also include location of various keys – cupboard keys, car keys, office/ warehouse/ shop keys in your home to be prominently written in your personal dairy.

One set of house keys should be kept with some friend/ neighbour for keeps sake. This practice is customary when we take such precautions normally when we fly out. But we never imagine a situation when our children may have to face such awkward situation alone and without any clue to the existence of entire wealth earned, saved and invested by their parents.

This requires planning about all such emergency situation and above all the distribution of the wealth among our children as per our desire and to avoid any unpleasant conflict thereafter. If this gives you a fright, act immediately now. Avoid procrastination and remember the basic principle “A stitch in time saves nine.”

It is important that your will is made correctly. To be valid, a will must be signed by the person who is making it and must be a true reflection of their wishes.

Let’s look the whole format and some important points while creating a will.

Succession planning should be top priority

The plan of distributing your wealth after you can be done by understanding the legal provisions of Succession of property or inheritance in law. It is the transfer of an individual’s property to one or more heirs according to a formula set out in law, religion and customs or under the terms of a trust.  There are two Succession Laws that are Hindu Succession Act which applies on Hindus, Buddhist, Jains & Sikhs and Indian Succession Act which applies on other religions, except Muslims. Although the Succession Act is not a piece of commercial legislation but its importance in today’s world is being felt because of family separation becoming the order of the day.

Indian Succession Act deals with the laws, procedures and rules regarding the administration of Testamentary Succession and Domicile. The object of the Act was to consolidate the large number of laws which were in existence before the enactment of the Act. Laws governing succession to Muslims and Hindus were excluded from the purview of the Act.

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 has been amended by enacting Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act in 2005. In the amending provisions, daughters have been provided with equal rights as that of a son in the inheritance of the property of a coparcener.

The property of a Male dying intestate shall be distributed in the order specified: firstly, upon Class I Heirs (Mother, Widow, Daughter, Son, Widow of a predeceased Son, Son of a predeceased Son, Daughter of a predeceased Son); secondly, upon Class II Heirs (Father, Son’s Daughter’s son, Son’s Daughter’s daughter, Brother, Sister) if there are no Class I Heirs; thirdly, upon Agnates and Cognates (Distant Relatives) if there are no Class II Heirs.

The property of Female Hindu dying intestate shall be distributed according to the Hindu Succession Law which is as follows: firstly, upon the sons and daughters (including the children of any pre-deceased son or daughter) and the husband; secondly, upon the heirs of the husband; thirdly, upon the mother and father; fourthly, upon the heirs of the father; and lastly, upon the heirs of the mother.

On the basis of current context, the importance of making a will is of prime significance for all persons having property in their name to avoid conflict among legal heirs. This can be attained by making a Will by you or jointly by both husband and wife together. Filecrat offers this service through its vast network of lawyers associated with us.

Wishing you and your family best of health. STAY HOME, STAY SAFE!

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