Writing and Registering a Will is the best Option
The best way to pass on one's wealth after death is to write and register a Will in favour of those persons whom one would like to get the estate.
Also Have Joint Accounts
However, other than writing and registering a Will, there are other ways to pass on the wealth without any hassles is by having joint accounts with the person whom you want to pass on the wealth (namely, one's spouse). Joint accounts are more hassle free even compared to a Will.
On the death of the person, the estate automatically passes on to the surviving account holder with minimum of paper work. The operation instructions in the joint account has to be mentioned as 'Either or Survivor'. By producing a copy of the death certificate the remaining account holder will become the sole account holder.
If a person is unwilling to allow the joint account to operate the account along with him during his life time, s/he may simply change the operation instructions to 'Former or Survivor' and s/he will operate the account as long one is alive and only after the death the other account holder will be able to access the account.
Nominations Helps Further
The nomination facility in banks and elsewhere helps further in passing on one's wealth to the desired person. In such case, the person may not open a joint account, but appoint the person as nominee in the account. In case of his/her death, the nominee has to provide identity and address proof along with death certificate of the deceased account holder to get the account transferred in his/her name.
Nominations also helps when one has a joint account with one's spouse, and s/he feels that it may happen that of they may die at the same time (accident or sickness), in that case having a nominee to whom they would desire to pass on the wealth, s/he can be nominated and when the death happens the person becomes the owner of the wealth.
However, one has to be careful to see that the person's name as beneficiary in the will should be the same as nominee. If the persons are different in the will and in the nomination, then the beneficiary in the Will, will not receive the wealth in the account, it will go to the nominee, though the beneficiary is entitled to receive it.
Then beneficiary needs to legally claim it and get it from the nominee. To avoid this make the beneficiary in the will as the nominee. Then it becomes easy for the beneficiary to transmit the asset in his/her name.
Please Review Your past Wills/ Joint Accounts/ Nominations
People when they are young and are not married and do not have children, they often have joint accounts with father/ mother/ brother/ sister and also may nominate them in the accounts with banks and other investments like LIC policies/ provident fund/ shares/ mutual funds etc. Sometime they also make a will in which some or of them are the beneficiaries. Once a person gets married and have children, they should review the names in the joint accounts/ nominations and their will from time to time and make suitable changes as and when required.
This will prevent the following situation from happening
'I am Sapna and I am having a big problem. My husband before our marriage had written a WILL stating that all the wealth will go to his elder sister after his death. After marriage he was thinking to change the will, but by the time he could do it he died of an accident. His sister has claimed all our property and bank balance because of that WILL. What can I do?”
Truly speaking, the lady can't do anything … her husband was lazy and ignorant about these things and now she will pay for his mistakes!
One should have a joint account, as the first account holder, with the person to whom s/he desires to pass on the wealth after his/her death…
Wherever, possible nominate a person, to whom you want your money should go after your death…
Review past Wills, names of persons in investment and nominations to make it up to date with changing times and your preferences to pass on your wealth after your death.
The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Director and Chief Financial Planner of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org