Bengaluru-based LegalDesk.com launched its online will product this year and has had more than 200 people log on to draft wills in the last six months.
Most of the users of this product are between 45 and 70 years of age. It has also partnered with old age homes to encourage seniors to write wills.
File photo used for representation (Credits: Reuters)
Pooja Srivats, a resident of Bengaluru, was 39 when she drafted her first will after her father died leaving a sizeable inheritance without a will. “I didn’t want money or property to become a cause of discord. However foolish it may seem, I wrote a will to record the little money and assets I had,” said Srivats.
Pune-based Pramod Kumar drew up a will in July when he turned 40. Being a single parent to two minor girls, he wanted to make sure they were taken care of, if anything untoward were to occur.
More people, even those in their forties, aren’t leaving things to chance but are writing their wills early on to avoid the kind of bitter property disputes they’ve seen tear families apart. And a slew of online will drafting options are aiding this trend.
Founder and CEO of Vakilsearch Hrishikesh Datar said the number of wills-related enquires had doubled every two years from around 200 in 2012 to 409 in 2014, 863 in 2016 and over 900 enquires this year. “Every four seconds, a person dies without a will. A decade or more is spent before their loved ones can benefit from their assets. People put it off because it is an uncomfortable topic,” said Datar. Vakilsearch, an online platform for lawyers and CAs, sells a will-writing kit, Right Will, on Amazon for Rs 400, which contains a document with tips to write a practice will, a final will and a white envelope to store it in.
Most people think a will needs to be executed on stamp paper, which is incorrect. “Our objective is to help people prepare, sign and seal their will in 10 minutes over a cup of tea,” said Datar.
Bengaluru-based LegalDesk.com launched its online will product this year and has had more than 200 people log on to draft wills in the last six months. Most users are between 45 and 70 years of age. It has also partnered with old age homes to encourage seniors to write wills.
“Wills are like medical insurance. Every family should draft one, particularly when the senior-most member or breadwinner crosses 40 years,” said Jatin Popat, founder, Willjini, a Mumbai-based startup. Organisations like HDFC Securities, CDSL, Corporation Bank and Muthoot Securities have partnered with Willjini to offer online wills as a value-add product for customers. Industrialists, family businesses and high net-worth individuals were the primary takers for wills earlier, said Popat. Now, he sees an increasing number of middle and upper middle-class customers seeking help to draw up wills.
Popat of Willjini says over 30% of his clients prefer to sit with a lawyer and draft a will. “Those who go online are looking for a hassle-free way that gives them privacy. In cases of divorce, adoption or loss of a spouse, they want to understand the implications before drafting the will,” said Popat.
In Mumbai, 70-year-old Shubhangi Patwardhan (name changed) logged onto to a website, got help from the support centre and drafted her will in 30 minutes, without the knowledge of her family.
For 49-year-old Mahesh Murthy, who lives in the US, it is about keeping family disputes at bay. “I want my wife and children to be secure. I also want to support my sister’s children, and while I know my wife will do it if I ask her to, I wanted it to be sorted out on paper so we are all on the same page. Matters like money and property can light a family feud very easily,” said Murthy, who used an online portal to draw up wills early this year.
Many put off drafting wills because they have their spouse or a parent listed as nominee for bank accounts or insurance policies. It is a misconception to think that a nominee is the inheritor, said Gaurav Chatterjee, partner, Kocchar & Co. “A nominee is a person who is authorised to operate/manage the account/assets of the deceased on behalf of the legal heirs but legally, the inheritor could be some other person or group of persons,” he said.