VALIDITY OF WILL
According to Section 2 (h) of Indian Succession Act, 1925, “Will” means the legal declaration of the intention of a testator with respect to his property which he desires to be carried into effect after his death.
A will is a legal piece of document in writing that enables an owner of a property (testator) to transfer his property to any person of his choice, where in the transfer takes place only after the death of the testator irrespective of the fact as to when the will was made. In legal terminology, this process of transferring property through the probate of will is regarded as ‘Testamentary Succession’.
In Testamentary Succession, the transfer takes place on the whims and fancies of the Will-maker or testator and not by the operation of law. By the virtue of will, a testator can vest his estate in the name of any person of his choice who will inherit all the properties named in the will once the testator dies. There can be one or more persons named in a will as per the discretion of the will-maker. In case of more than one person, the testator can specify the ratio of division of the property amongst the heirs but if he fails to do so then it is generally divided in equal proportions to every legal heir mentioned in the will.
HOW LONG IS A WILL VALID FOR?
As a general rule, a will is valid if it is written voluntarily by the real owner in relation to his legally owned assets and properties under no force or pressure.
The real question arises as to for how many years a will is said to be valid and effective? A will exists in perpetuity and is valid for time-immemorial after the death of the testator and there is no bar on its enforcement. The beneficiary in whose name the will is written gets an indefinite right to get it executed anytime after the death of the testator as the will remains valid for time immemorial. There is no expiry date in case of Will and no authority can enforce a restriction or limit on the time period of execution of will.
DO WILLS EXPIRE?
A will once made cannot expire suo-moto (on its own). The only way a will can expire is when the testator revokes his own-made will or makes a new one declaring the previous one void/invalid. If the same is not declared, then also the newly made will always prevails over the older one(s). A will can also expire if it is proved in the court of law that the will was made under coercion, force, pressure or undue-influence as it would amount to fraud and as an exception to rule of law, ‘fraud vitiates everything’. In case of fraud being proved, it makes the will void-ab-initio (invalid from the inception) and it will be deemed that the will expired or was never made at all.