If one does not make a Will then his property will be inherited by legal heirs in accordance with the laws of inheritance applicable to him. However, most of the people would like to dispose of their property according to their own wishes. Thus, there arises the need for making one’s Will. Apart from it there are certain distinct advantages of making a Will.
1. When a person dies without having made a Will, there is often confusion amongst the family members and relatives as to whether the deceased did make any Will prior to his death or not, but if a Will is available, the only question that needs to be ascertained is whether it is the last Will of the testator.
2. A Will be absolutely personal document. More than anything it is an expression of the relationship with the members of family or relatives, etc. The views, opinions and feelings, etc., are indicated in this document. A Will allows the devolution of property in a personalized manner rather than letting the impersonal rules of inheritance take effect.
3. Many disputes can be resolved at the very outset if there is a clear disposition of one’s property in a Will. It will not be out of place to mention the imbroglio of Late Mrs. Indira Gandhi and her daughter-in-law Manekar Gandhi, who were embroiled in a litigation concerning the assets of the late Sanjay Gandhi. Had Sanjay Gandhi left behind a Will, the possibility of any dispute surfacing between the mother and his wife would have been very remote.
4. By means of a Will, one can appoint in writing, a testamentary guardian for his infant children. A testamentary guardian is person, who is appointed b a testament or a Will. This point needs further clarification. In the event of the death of a parent the law would ordinarily uphold the right of surviving natural parent to be the guardian of the child. However, if there is no surviving parent, the law attaches great importance tot eh Will of a parent in deciding who to appoint as a guardian. This is a matter of great importance with regard to the future of the children and therefore, this issue must be discussed in details with the proposed guardian before appointing him testamentary guardian.
5. A Will provides more room inter se the laws of inheritance, which sometimes do not cater to the special needs and requirements of the members of a family. For instance, a father has two sons. One is healthy but the other is handicapped due to any chronic disease since childhood. The laws of inheritance would treat both these children on an equal footing. But by means of a Will one can have somewhat greater provision for a handicapped son, a widowed daughter or an invalid parent. Not only that by means of a Will, one can make some provision for a faithful servant, a nurse a friend in need of money, and so on. All such people could never receive any benefit whatsoever under the laws of inheritance in the absence of a Will.
6. In the absence of a Will even the most unwanted son, who had left the house for disobedience, fraud, violence, etc. may turn up to claim his share of estate from his father’s property. Similarly, an adulterous wife might demand her share as per inheritance laws.
There are however, some disadvantages also in making a Will and they are mostly psychological. In many cases it has been observed that people lose all their interests in life and idem such before the time they would have lived.
If there is no Will, the property would be dealt with as per the laws of inheritance. For Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs the laws of inheritance have been codified in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. For Christians the Indian Succession Act, 1925 will be applicable. Parsis have a different law of inheritance. Similarly, Muslims have their own law. That has, however, not been codified in nay legislation but is based on their religious texts. There are tow major sects of Muslims – Shias and Sunnis. Both of them have different laws of inheritance.