Indians Shy Away from Making 'Wills'

 By: Abha Mohunta
A will is a documentation of how you desire to distribute your material possessions after death. It can be amended as and when there is a change in your material belongings or when you wish to distribute the inheritance differently. A will ensures that those you care for get a share of your belongings in accordance with your decision. A will has to be "valid" so that it is accepted by the court and put into effect by the court granting what is known as probate.

If you die without leaving behind a will, it is left to the next head of the family to distribute it as he or she thinks right. At times all the claimants arrive at a mutually acceptable settlement. However, in this age of materialism and intolerance, such amicable settlements may not always be possible. So if the inheritance has many claimants, there are chances of bitterness, feud and conflicts. The court has to help in settlement of such disputes and it goes by the laws of inheritance. A court's decision may not be acceptable to all the parties. This leads to litigation, counter-claims, ill-feeling, frustration and bad blood all-around. At times this may even lead to dire consequences and sordid actions like murder, suicide and the like.

Death is an imminent reality. There is no escape from it. Each one of us generally dies leaving behind an inheritance big or small. So why not make a will well in time? What is it that holds us back?

There are very few Indians who are well beyond their prime and with considerable wealth to bequeath and have prepared a will. Why do Indians shy away from making their will?

Indians do not want to think of death, be it their own or their loved ones. They think it outrageous to even toy with the thought for a moment. And since writing one's will is a tacit acceptance of death, they never get down to it. They live in the comfort of their illusion that death is a distant reality that will not overtake them so soon. Infact Indians subconsciously believe that thinking of death or planning for it is ominous and will hasten one's demise. Death as a thought is taboo.

Its time we Indians realise that not preparing one's will or avoiding thinking of death will not put away death for ever, just as making one's will is not an open invitation to death.

It is true that making a will does not help the person who makes it. It helps his loved ones. It ensures that dependants are provided for. It prevents chances of discord amongst them. So it is worth the trouble.

And it is never too early to make your will. Death does not always knock before it takes you away. So if you are above eighteen and have anything to bequeath, please make a will and amend it frequently.
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