You don’t need to be rich, famous or on your death bed, surrounded by ten family members who were invited by post.
To register your will, all you need is Rs 100. That’s how much it takes to pass on your legacy and avoid any potential disputes over it. In case this is not done, the recent squabbles in a prominent industrialist family and the disputed properties of film stars like Suraiya or Parveen Babi are there for all to see.
This warning comes from Shankar Pai of the Make A Will Foundation who has taken it upon himself to devote the remaining years of his life to propagating the desirability of making a will.
As soon as 53-year-old Pai, who stays in Bandra, took voluntary retirement from Dena Bank, he found a lot of time on his hands. It was around this time that the news of a fallout in a leading industrialist’s family made headlines.
This inspired Pai to form an organisation called the Make A Will Foundation in 2001. In this process, he was helped by V S Karve, a chartered accountant who used his accountancy skills to guide people. Pai has held over 50 meetings in different places, including Dignity Foundation, Bankers’ Training College and Help Library.
When he is not delivering lectures at various institutes, Pai visits public gardens whenever he can and gives advice about the need to make a will to anyone who cares to listen.
At these lectures, Pai clarifies that making a will is not a complex process. All it requires is a plain paper and not a stamp paper, details of the willed property and the signature of the person making the will.
Two witnesses are required, though. While it is not necessary that a will has to be registered, one should try and register it in case it is likely to be challenged in court after the demise of the person making the will.
In case the two witnesses are a doctor and lawyer, then the will is likely to face less legal hurdles. The doctor is needed because he or she can certify that the person making the will is in good health and the lawyer can iron out any legal queries.
However, they are not necessary. Also, contrary to popular belief, a will is not irrevocable. The will can be revised as many times as the person wants to. However, each time the will is revised, a new sign and declaration stating that the will is the final one needs to be added. There is no proforma for making a will and each will is unique.
Initially, when they listen to him, people are startled, admits Pai. But then, they warm up and are all ears when Pai talks about the consequences of not making a will. Interestingly, he says that those who then get in touch with him belong to the middle class and even the lower class.
Recently, a hutment dweller contacted him and made a will even though the only property he had was the hut he was living in. Another interesting case was that of a Gujarati businessman who consulted Pai and made his will.
The businessman left Rs 1 lakh to an impoverished yet brilliant Konkani singer in his building.
(Pai can be contacted on 9819215578)