October 21, 2010

WILL power


Death of husband and head of family is DISASTER for any Indian Family. In many homes, children have left the nest and settled outside the city and/or working abroad. All relatives who come generally leave after the fourth day. It is then that the widow realizes the problems she is going to face when alone.

This note has been prepared with the fond hope that husband when alive, will take certain actions, which considerably reduces the chances of harassment after wife becomes widow.   In this respect sensible FINANCIAL PLANNING can be crucial.

Anticipating a tragedy may be one of the most important bits of financial planning a wife can do.  Thinking ahead to protect yourself and your children in the event of a disaster, while perhaps emotionally difficult, need not take a great deal of time or be very complicated nor very costly unlike in USA, and you could someday be very grateful you did it.


WHEN A WIFE BECOMES WIDOW AND FINDS HERSELF SUDDENLY ALONE – PREPARE
DISASTER MANAGEMENT PLAN NOW


Step I
Separate WILL and get them registered

You and your spouse should make separate WILL and get them registered.  In India (Delhi) getting a WILL registered costs Rs 500.  Abroad it may cost $ 1500-2000.  It's a myth that people in their late 30s and early 40s are too young to worry about a WILL.   Indeed that age group suffered most on September 11 attack in NY and most died intestate or without a WILL.  Lack of WILL makes the process of recovery lengthier and complicated resulting in court cases.

It's also a myth that you need to have substantial amount of money and assets including immovable property to make a WILL.  If you fail to make your WILL, your property will be distributed by law to your legal heirs – including your mother, widow, children(s) etc. as in the case of Indian Hindu male. In the case of Hindu women, property goes to husband, daughter and son.

Legally speaking there is no difference in registered and un-registered WILL.  However, if one goes by experience, Banks, Government Offices, Insurance Company, Municipal Corporation, DDA etc all insist for Registered WILL. Also, there are lesser chances of people going to courts, if WILL is registered.

It is also essential that a copy of WILL should be available with YOU or your lawyer/friend/relative so that it is easy to get same in the event of your or spouse death.

Step II
Keeping records


Your disaster management plan costs nothing but time.  You and your husband should gather all of your key records, a copy of WILL and information where original is kept, account numbers, safe deposit locker information, insurance, PF, PPF beneficiaries and the like. Keep them in one place but definitely not at where you work.  

  All those in employment in high positions depend too much on their Offices and/or on PAs to keep such records without, may be without the knowledge of wife. Can a better system be devised by such persons?

Step III  
Keeping Records updated


You should also update your records and files every month so that you are not caught up with unpleasant surprises.

Amar Pandit, Financial Analyst, Mumbai says that in his experience only 5% have proper financial records.

You must keep an ASSET REGISTER.

Step IV  
Stay Informed


If you have opened an account in Bank, PPF, or taken a life policy before marriage, do remember to change your nominee in Bank, PF, PPF, Insurance Policy etc.   Ensure that after marriage, nominee and beneficiary under the WILL is your spouse in all instruments.

Step V  
Keep track of following


House and Flats:-  Original sale deed, if on power of attorney the original POA, original documents given by DDA/Housing Agency to original allottee, payment receipts, allotment letter, last payments, possession letter, letter of physical handing over of house/flat, registered WILL of original allottee, sale deed, special and general power of attorney, etc. (a word of caution – never part with your  original/photocopy of documents to anyone), house tax receipts, bank account numbers, cheque books, locker number and bank, FDRs of bank, companies and other financial instruments nomination under GPF, PF, PPF, Post Office accounts, car papers and insurance, income tax files, insurance policies including life, house hold, mediclaim, etc.   Pension file, legal cases file if any, DVB, DJB payments, passport and their numbers if any, property on rent – original lease deed and host of other documents.

Step VI
Write Name of Helpful Person


Write down the name of person(s) who will be helpful in period of distress.

All this may sound gruesome but sudden death of your spouse is something you might have to face one day.  The bottom line in disaster management planning is to help the surviving partner and make the transition to a life without you.


Recently Agewell Foundation has launched a Scheme titled as
“Dharohar” for Safekeeping of Will Documents.

For more details about the scheme contact us at agewellfoundation@gmail.com 
or visit our website www.agewellfoundation.org