Will is a legal declaration of the intention of a testator with respect to his property, which he desires to be carried into effect after his death. It includes codicil and every writing making a voluntary posthumous disposition of property. It is testamentary instrument by which a person makes disposition of his property to take effect after his death, and which, in its own nature, is ambulatory and revocable during his life. Thus, a Will can be changed by the executants as and when he so likes. It is a secret and confidential document which the executants is never ordered to produce.
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There are two essential characteristics of a Will:-
(i) It must be intended to come into effect after the death of the testator; and
(ii) It must be revocable by the testator at any time. Although Wills are usually made for disposing property, they can also be made for appointing executors, for creating trusts and for appointing testamentary guardians of minor children. In one case, the Andhra Pradesh High Court has held that contents of the Will must indicate that it is intended to come into effect after death of testator and that it is revocable at any time prior to his death and a document cannot be treated as a Will by a mere reading of heading of it.
A gift to take effect the life lime of the donor is a deed of settlement and not a Will. Section 63 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 provides that a Will is liable to be revoked or altered by the maker of it at any time when he is competent to dispose of his property by Will.
When a person dies without having made a Will, he is said to have died intestate. His property is then inherited by his legal heirs in accordance with the law of inheritance applicable to him. It must be noted here that legal heirs generally include close family members such as one’s spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters.