Wills In The Time Of Corona - Challenges And Solutions

In these uncertain times of a global pandemic, there is increased interest in succession planning, including through Wills, and understandably so. Yet, there are considerable practical and legal challenges involved in making a Will during social distancing, isolation or quarantine. In this blog post, we discuss these challenges in the Indian context and suggest potential solutions. While it may not be possible to find foolproof solutions, and unfortunately technology is not yet an ally, there are some measures that may help to overcome prevalent complications in creation of Wills.
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Covid -19 and succession planning

 Lawyers are generally very conservative – so it may sound a bit alarmist to hear us say “the world is ending!” At the time of writing, India is coming to grips with the terrifying ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (“COVID-19”)’ virus. There is something primal and scary about an airborne threat that can kill you – from something as simple as coming close to an infected person, or touching a door handle, etc. It makes us think about the fragility of life, and the need to protect our loved ones. Some people may believe the steps being taken at present are an overreaction – but are they?

As per the WHO, COVID-19 appears to target the elderly and individuals having underlying illnesses. The WHO mission to China found that 78% of the cases reported as of February 20, 2020 were in individuals between ages 30 and 69. In a matter of barely three months, COVID-19 has infected over 185,000 individuals, resulting in nearly 7,200 deaths, covering 157 countries and territories around the world. The Diamond Princess cruise ship harbored in Yokohama, Japan— was among the lone case involving an international vessel. In India, at the time of writing, 110+ individuals tested positive for the virus, with three fatalities. The virus knows no boundaries, gender or net worth, targeting poor and rich alike. Pandemics are an equalizer in society.


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TESTAMENTARY TRUSTS or Will Trusts – OVERVIEW AND INSIGHTS

Trusts are recognised internationally as favoured vehicles for estate and succession planning. Although most private asset-holding trusts are created during the lifetime of the creator (settlor), there is another category of trusts called testamentary trusts. As the term suggests, testamentary trusts (also known as ‘Will-trusts’ in certain jurisdictions) are formed through testamentary instruments such as a Will, and which take effect only upon the death of the creator. This post seeks to provide an overview of the Indian law on testamentary trusts, and offer insights into their creation, function and utility.
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Will and testament
The Indian Succession Act does not make it compulsory to appoint an executor of a Will, (iStock)

The Private Client team at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas shares their comments and opinions shared in an article in the  following Q&A which was published by the Mint Newspaper on and the online edition of the same can be found at: https://www.livemint.com/insurance/news/it-is-not-necessary-to-appoint-a-lawyer-as-executor-of-your-will-11580203086115.html

My life insurance policies have nominees. But I want the life insurance proceeds to go to a few other people, too. I wish to specify the same in the Will. Can it get challenged as the nominee names are different?

—Herman Patel
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Will Making
Photo: iStock

The Private Client team at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas is delighted to share, via our Private Client blog, our comments and opinions shared in various leading media publications globally. We hope these inputs help our clients and readers gain a practical perspective into key legal, financial, commercial and other aspects that need to be duly considered in Estate Planning.

The following Q&A was published by the Mint Newspaper on and the online edition of the same can be found at: https://www.livemint.com/money/personal-finance/trust-made-under-will-works-well-for-bequeathing-assets-to-a-minor-11578997625506.html.

For further information, please contact our Partner & Co-Head of our Private Client team, Mr. Rishabh Shroff, at Rishabh.shroff@cyrilshroff.com
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 Legal Heirs Preferred Over Nominees - Court Decision

The issue of legatees vs. nominees still seems to be causing confusion in the minds of the public. Even after a number of clear judicial decisions on this topic, confirming that legal heirs are the correct persons to inherit assets (over that of a nominee), a new decision re-confirms this issue.

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, New Delhi (“NCLAT”), on November 14th, 2019 had held that nomination does not amount to beneficial ownership to an asset and the nominee holds the asset for and on behalf of the legal heirs of the deceased. The Bench of Justice S.J. Mukhopadhyaya and Justice A.I.S. Cheema, in the case of Oswal Greentech v Mr Pankaj Oswal and Ors[1] (“Oswal”) whilst listening to the question of maintainability of the petition under Section 241-242 of the Companies Act, 2013 (“Act”), decided on the said matter.
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Wedding Succession Planning - Inheritance rights of Hindus

When one is about to get married, there are myriad thoughts crossing one’s mind all at once – from meticulous planning of the upcoming nuptials, to mundane but practical matters such as updating official documents, to creating social media hashtags. A wedding is after all a momentous occasion in a person’s life, and planning is key. It might be safe to say, however, that the thought of how marriage will impact one’s inheritance rights and succession planning in anticipation are usually not top of the list.

In this blog, we discuss this important but rarely discussed topic – the effect of marriage on inheritance rights and planning in anticipation of marriage. As this is a vast topic and issues vary depending on the facts of each case, we have discussed some of the key issues and limited the discussion in this post to Hindus.
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