A will is a document that allows for the division and distribution of an individual’s intestate amongst his heirs and others in accordance with his wishes after his demise.
The registration of a will is not compulsory; however, a greater legitimacy is attached to it once registered.
The registration of a will is considered to be more flexible as opposed to the registration of other legal documents.
The registration of wills is not time-bound, usually because they are more sensitive and delicate. An individual making the will or a testator may not always want to disclose the assets that he/she may possess. Thus, there exists no specified time period of registration.
The will has to be registered before the Registrar or Sub-Registrar under whose jurisdiction the matter lies. This should be done in the district court.
The registration is usually done in the offices of the Registrar and the Sub-Registrar, but for exceptional cases, under Section 31 of the Registration Act, the officer may in case of a special cause go to an individual’s residence. This is usually in cases of ill health or impending death.
In usual cases, a stamp duty is paid; the testator is accompanied by the witnesses to the Registrar’s office. The will is executed and the registered will can be given to a lawyer or banker so as to keep in safe custody. The registrar too has an authority to hold the will and to deposit the wills. This can be done by the will being put in a sealed cover/envelope and can be done by the testator or a person duly assigned by him.
It is a general misconception that the registered will has a supremacy over an unregistered regardless of the fact that the unregistered will is on a later date.
But it has been established by the Apex Court that regardless of the registration or non-registration of the will, the one of the later date would prevail.
There are many advantages to registering a will;
- it cannot be tampered, destroyed or stolen;
- it cannot be examined or even accessed without the written consent of the testator until his death