Will is a legal declaration of the intention of a testator with respect to his property and estate, both movable and immovable. The Will should be signed by the testator (person making the Will) in the presence of two witnesses (other than the beneficiaries under a Will), and the witnesses must also attest (i.e., sign). A Will is not a compulsorily registerable document under section 17 of the Registration Act, 1908. However, at the option of the testator, and to strengthen the authenticity of the document, he may register the Will with the applicable Registrar or Sub-registrar of Assurances (in the city of residence) subject to the provisions of the Registration Act, 1908.
To register a Will, the testator may, either personally or by an authorised agent, deposit the original Will with the registrar in a sealed cover with the name of the testator and that of his agent (if any) and with a statement of the nature of the document imprinted. The registrar on receipt of the cover, if satisfied about the identity of the testator or his authorised agent, shall enter in his register the details aforesaid, along with the year, month, day and hour of presentation and receipt, and the names of any persons who may testify to the testator’s or his agent’s identity.
Once a Will is registered, it is placed in the safe custody of the Registrar and cannot be tampered with, destroyed, mutilated or stolen. However, non-registration of a Will does not lead to any conclusive evidence about its genuineness but the same can be challenged in a court. A Will also doesn’t attract stamp duty. A nominal fee is payable for registration, which may differ from state to state.
All Wills can be revoked, either impliedly or expressly. The executor is the most important person in the Will. An executor has a duty to collect and realise the estate of the deceased, pay his debts and distribute the legacies as mentioned in the Will by the testator.