Scared that your property will go to the wrong hands after you pass away? Write a will and be certain that it will pass on only to the loved ones you want to.
Considered one of the most unselfish acts, will writing serves a dual purpose – it ensures that the property passes on to the right hands and at the same time eliminates the chance of any hard feelings between family members over money.
At a time when e-commerce governs the world, wills are also being tailor-made to suit the requirement of the person drawing the will, online.
Online wills are slowly but steadily climbing up the popularity chart of the Indian masses.
Usually considered the top brass tool to ensure that their assets do not go haywire after their death, online wills are becoming popular among the educated, higher middle class. A provision empowered by three players in the sector, e-will writing services is all about making the process easier and less cumbersome on a digital platform.
“The biggest advantage is that a person can submit his requirement from the comfort of his home, an exercise that he can perform discreetly if he so desires in the dead of the night. No need for repeated visits to the lawyer and astronomical amounts to be shelled out for making a will anymore,” says Gokul Das, MD and CEO, Warmond Trustees and Executors Private Limited, one of the three players in this sector.
Each ‘will’ is prepared by one of the senior members of the company’s legal team and involves a lot of scrutiny whereby the will is sent back to and fro before a draft is drawn up. After the draft is prepared, it is sent back to the person before it is finalised.
The final will is then sent via an e-mail and the person takes a print out and signs it in the presence of two people.
At present, there are only three players in this sector. One player is the joint venture of NSDL with Mumbai-based Warmond Trustees and Executors (Ezeewill.com), the other two being HDFC Securities’ e-Will and SBI’s product ‘My WILL Services Online’.
“There has been an incredible wealth boom in India in the recent years. It is the educated people and those in the higher age group that usually tend to opt for will writing,” says Gokul. He says the level of penetration of online wills is slightly more in the southern states, with the average age hovering around the 40 mark.
Launched one year ago, an 81-year-old is their oldest taker for an online will.
One needs to submit personal information like detailed assets break-up, beneficiaries, and religion and the will would be drawn up accordingly, in keeping with the laws of the land. The service providers have in place a dedicated team of lawyers who work with the submitted details to prepare a personal will.
A soft copy is sent out first for a glance, followed by the final document, which needs to be signed in the presence of two witnesses and kept safely. At Ezeewill, the will is not in the form of a template and is drawn strictly in accordance with the needs of the person.
The trend of writing an online will is catching up, but slowly, among the upscale middle class. With newer modes of investment like fixed deposits, mutual funds, shares, etc, becoming the order of the day, the need to prepare a will is perhaps becoming more imminent, say experts.
“The common man would earlier never write a will largely because they were and still are apprehensive of making multiple visits to a lawyer. Also it tends to create a disconnection in the family if people understand that a person is visiting the lawyer to prepare a will. Therefore, we give people 30 days time to change and modify their will and only then send out a soft copy of the encrypted version of the will,” says V. Muralidharan, CEO and Whole Time Director, SBICAP Trustee Company Limited.
There is another advantage of creating a will online, says Muralidharan.
“After the will is prepared, the confidential details are removed from the site. So in case a person loses the will, he/she will have to get a fresh one drafted,” he says.
With people slowly waking up the advantages of making wills in general and online wills in particular, players in this sector are hoping that the trend of making wills would catch up soon.
As Muralidharan says, the tech-savvy age group (20–40 years) is the beneficiary of this service and in another 10 years time, when they are in a position to draw up their wills, this sector is likely to grow manifold.
While HDFC and NSDL charge Rs 4,000 each, SBI has priced its online will service at Rs 2,500 per draft.