[App Friday] With WillStar, LawRato helps create legally binding wills without lawyer intervention

2nd Mar 2018
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Can a free will-making app help settle property disputes and court battles? Delhi-based LawRato thinks so and their app WillStar helps create legally binding wills in 15 minutes.

LawRato.com, a Delhi-based startup, deals in legal consultancy and handles legal matters on a daily basis. Since inception, they noticed a disturbing trend. They were inundated with numerous queries from clients to file cases against their own family members. Most of these cases were mainly property disputes because a family member had failed to leave a will behind.

According to the 2016 survey by civil society organisation Daksh, over 53 percent of civil cases in India are against family members. Property disputes top the list of cases filed in consumer courts. Another survey highlights that around Rs 12,000 crore is lying unclaimed with insurance companies. This data, collated across life and general insurance companies, shows the huge unclaimed money pot still waiting for the rightful beneficiaries.

Rohan Mahajan, coFounder, LawRato.com, says “Curative legal procedures in India are very long drawn and painful, so we wanted to provide people with all the preventive ways of avoiding unnecessary legal battles. Making a will is one of the simplest yet least followed procedures in our country, which leads to ugly fights between families and relatives. We realised that these disputes can be reduced if we provide people with a simple online/offline tool that can help them create their will in just 15 minutes.” 

Let us explore LawRato and their “will-making” app, WillStar, in this week’s App Friday review.

The story so far

Delhi based LawRato.com is a leading legal tech platform that makes it faster and easier to consult top lawyers in any city/court in India. The startup was co-founded by Rohan and Nikhil Sarup in 2014.

LawRato cofounders

The idea occurred to Rohan, a law graduate from Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi, when he faced a legal issue during his stay in Jakarta, Indonesia. The unavailability of a valid online platform offering verified legal counsel left him exasperated and compelled him to co-found LawRato.

Before starting LawRato, Rohan worked with Airtel, Digitas, and Wizcraft International as a marketing professional. Nikhil spent 14 years in digital marketing, building digital strategy, expertise in CRM in Digitas and Razorfish India.

LawRato currently consists of a 45-member team and claims to facilitate expert legal advice through more than 25,000 lawyers across over 500 cities across India. The startup recently launched an app, Willstar, which allows any individual to make a legal will by themselves. This app is designed to simplify the process of making a will so that anybody with a smartphone can make a will on the go. The app has been launched in English, Hindi and Tamil.

Some of the team members at LawRato

Based on their understanding, Rohan believes that two of the main reasons people don't leave wills behind are:

  1. Lack of understanding of how wills work.
  2. Lack of knowledge of how wills are drafted.

Rohan noted, “A will may be registered at the local SDM office, but it is not a mandatory requirement.” He explained that a handwritten will that is signed by two witnesses is also a legally binding agreement. One just has to ensure basic hygiene points and that there are no logical loopholes or ambiguity. With WillStar, LawRato aims to help people with the above pain points and help them craft a will from scratch.

How WillStar works

Having almost no knowledge about making a will, I downloaded WillStar to see if I could get a quick crash course on how to draft a legally binding will. The app is well designed and includes minimal legal jargon. The process of drafting a will is clearly laid out and users can also access additional information in the form of videos and blog posts from the first screen of the app, in case they need more information.

Screenshot of 1st screen on WillStar

The actual will-drafting process comprises simple steps starting with basic questions followed by the tool that helps users define how their estate should be divided after they pass away.

Asset distribution

The tool also allows users to define alternate beneficiaries, executors for their will, guardians for minor children, and even provisions to disinherit family members.

On completion, users can download and print the document, sign it along with two attesting witnesses, and the will is legally valid. Rohan noted that the generated document has been extensively reviewed by multiple lawyers, to ensure it is legally binding.

The revenue model

WillStar is a free app and Rohan mentioned that this was part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative to give back to society. But Rohan admitted that WillStar indirectly serves as a cross-selling platform for LawRato.

The app provides value-added services and users can pay to draft and review the will by an expert Lawyer, get the will registered for complete protection and file for Probate of Will through an experienced lawyer for a reasonable price.

For users who may not be tech-savvy, WillStar facilitates the option of buying a physical kit online. WillStar’s MakeMyWill Easy Kit is available in English and Hindi languages on Amazon for Rs 399. The kit comes with instructions, a sample will and a template which can be filled to make a will. The users can fill the required information, sign it along with 2 attesting witnesses, and the will is legally valid.

Sector overview and future plans

Startups like MeetUrPro, Vakilsearch, IndiaFilings, Pathlegal and bCompliance are some of the startups in the legal-tech space. At the time of writing this story, we couldn’t easily find another will-drafting app, but platforms like Vakil Search do offer will drafting services. While LawRato helps users auto-create a legally binding will through their app in an estimated 15 minutes, Vakil Search guarantees a turnaround time of four business days for their will-drafting service which is done by human lawyers. 

One of LawRato’s other noteworthy CSR activities includes helping Nirbhaya’s parents get pro-bono representation in the Supreme Court in 2016-17, through its legal aid programme. The startup had raised an angel fund of $100,000 from a group of angel investors. This was followed by an undisclosed round of pre-series A funding by Indian Angel Network in November 2016. Rohan noted that they are in the process of raising a larger round of funding to expand operations.

The WillStar app can be downloaded from Google Play Store and will subsequently be available on the Apple App store

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