What is a duplicate will and how to prepare it?

What is a Duplicate Will?

A duplicate will is a copy of the original will. These two wills are duplicates. Both the original and duplicate will are considered a single will. the duplicate will needs to be signed and attested just like the original will as per section 63, Indian succession act 1925. This will can be created for the purpose of safety or keeping safe with a bank, executor, drafting attorney or trustee for the proper execution of the will. If one will gets destroyed the duplicate will can be used. 

However, such a duplicate will can be valid proof of testament only if the original will is non-existent. A duplicate will is not considered legitimate or authentic if the original will is still on record. If the original will is not filed with the duplicate will then it is presumed that the duplicate will stands automatically revoked. 

What is a duplicate original will?

Duplicate original wills are duplicate wills that are considered original, which means they were executed at the same time. Duplicate original wills can cause various problems for example if in case you have duplicate original wills, then after your death, the executor must provide all the original wills in court. Even if one duplicate original will is missing, your original will is considered invalid and the law of intestacy will be applied.

Another problem that may arise due to multiple duplicate original wills is that your loved ones may submit more than one will in the court which may lead to delay and conflict to determine which will is valid. It is probable, if you try to supplement a will by a duplicate original will, one might accidentally revoke the will. 

Are copy wills valid? 

Yes, copy wills are valid. Although It is a rule of thumb that only the original will is valid and only the original copy will be admissible in the court, however, most people do make copies of their will. A duplicate will, will be accepted in the court only if the original has been destroyed unintentionally. In case it is proved that the original will has been ruined intentionally, in order to revoke the will, then the copy is not considered valid. 

Can you have two original wills?

Yes, it is possible to have two original wills. However, it is advised not to have multiple original wills. Various formalities need to be performed while executing a will. The decisions you make while formulating your plan will, will significantly affect the implementation of the same. In many cases, it may be recommended to have multiple copies and sign several originals but signing two original copies may create unintended troubles. multiple original copies of your will may turn out to be problematic for your loved ones costing them their time and money. your assets will create disputes between beneficiaries leading to the distribution of the same, in a manner, which is against your wishes. 

It is a good idea to mark all the copies with ‘copy’ to avoid confusion along with a handwritten statement stating the location of the original will. It is recommended to sign the original will with blue ink to help distinguish it from photocopies.

Another problem that may arise is tracking all the original copies and destroying them if the owner of the will makes changes in the will or if multiple beneficiaries have multiple original copies of the wills. In the instance of the owner making changes, if all the old wills are not destroyed then people who prefer the older will, are likely to challenge the newer will. Ultimately the decision rests with you whether you want multiple original wills but beware of the complications and consequences.

Who can get a copy of a will?

Before the death of the testator

Before the death of the testator, only the testator is legally entitled to a copy of their will. They can either choose to keep the will confidential or share it with anyone they want. Once the testator passes away several people can get legal access to view the copy of the will. 

After the death of the testator

After the death of the testator, the first person to receive the original copy of the will is the executor. The immediate family members of the testator whether listed as a beneficiary or not have the right to view a copy of the will along with people who have minor children as beneficiaries and people to whom the testator owed money. Legal, financial and estate advisors involved in the estate distribution and filling can view the will. 

What are the Benefits of duplicate will?

If you plan to keep the original will with yourself then Your family members might not be able to immediately locate your last will and testament after your death. thereby It will be helpful to keep a duplicate will either with the registrar, drafting attorney or in a safe bank locker. It is also beneficial to keep a duplicate of the will in case the original gets lost or damaged in a property fire.

A duplicate will also provide a safeguard for testamentary purposes since they cannot be executed till the original will is non-existent and the original will will be revoked if it is not submitted with the duplicate copy. In such a way, you can ensure your property and assets are distributed the way you like and avoid the unintended consequences of intestacy

In the absence of a will, things can get complicated when it comes to the distribution of assets. Don’t let your loved ones go through the trouble to inherit their right. Make a will today for an easier tomorrow.