Precautions to protect assets after death – I

last-will-and-testamentDeath is certain. When an individual dies suddenly, the family members will have to face problems if the individual, in anticipation of death, has not taken precautions and made arrangements to settle his affairs. While appreciating the inevitable truth that Death is certain, one also needs to understand and execute his responsibilities in anticipation of the event in the best interest of his loved ones and dependents.

Death could occur suddenly by accident, heart attack and so on or a person could become incapacitated, unconscious and unable to speak or function. While we pray that such a situation should not come to anybody, every prudent person should take precautions to explain all his ideas, position of assets, relationship with family members, financial details and other vital information and inform his family members and close friends so that the affairs and assets are properly managed. This responsibility is beyond writing a clear, complete and legally valid Will. Despite the will, there are likely situations that the successors, being unable to know details and whereabouts of assets, tend to lose the wealth and land in unwarranted hardships. What was earned and saved becomes waste! In the hours of death and grief, they would also be facing unwarranted difficulties due to lack of information and instructions in management of affairs. To overcome such avoidable consequences the following suggestions are being shared.

A. BEING ORGANISED IN PERSONAL AND FINANCIAL MATTERS:
It is in your best interest to follow the following points in order to keep your personal financial and legal compliance matters in an organized manner:-

a) All investments in FD, NSC, LIC policies, Bonds, Shares etc., are to be held in joint names and nominations are to be made for all such investments. It is also advisable to maintain photocopies of the documents along with an Investment Register being kept up-to-date as and when the investments undergo changes.

b) Keep a ‘Notarised’ photocopy of all the documents of immovable property. The original title deeds are to be carefully preserved. If they are very old or inherited take steps to get the name of legal representatives / beneficiaries in the revenue records. Obtain a legal opinion and keep the same along with the original title deeds to avoid difficulty in disposal because the rules and regulations are changed periodically and the same can be taken care of in time under advice of a competent advocate.

c) If there are immovable properties owned, please get the will registered with the help of an advocate. If the will is written in the handwriting of the testator the bonafides of the will cannot be disputed by the legal representatives. Please confirm that such handwritten will bears date and signature of the testator and two witnesses. It is advisable to choose family doctor and another person known to the family as witnesses to the will. Younger person as witness is preferred. Witness should be of good integrity to stand by the will if such need arises.

d) To avoid litigation for succession by questioning the will, Settlement of property retaining the life estate is advisable. Stamp duty for such instrument is at a concessional rate in some states.

e) A person living in isolation without spouse or issues will have to plan properly the disposal of  their assets and belongings in advancing age and when they fall sick or have irreversible health problems.
f) Make it a practice to keep all important documents, title deeds of property, jewellery, FDs, Shares, Deeds, LIC policies other financial instruments and valuable assets in a safe place and periodically brief about the same to the close persons in the family.

g) If adequate precaution is not taken to enable the successors/beneficiaries to realize and enjoy the hard earned wealth, time and energy will be wasted in litigation besides delay in encashment of investments.

 

Source: The above article is Published in the Journal of August 2014 by Kanara Chamber of commerce & Industry

Leave a Comment