Legal Requirements and Process for types of wills in India

What are the requirements of a will in India? In India, the legal requirements for a will to be valid are primarily governed by the Indian Succession Act of 1925. The person making the will, known as the testator, must be an adult over the age of 18 and must be of sound mind at the time of drafting the will. The will must be in writing; while it can be handwritten or typed, it is essential that it clearly states the intentions of the testator regarding the distribution of his or her assets after death. The will should appoint an executor who will manage the estate and ensure that the testator’s wishes are carried out.

While not mandatory, registering the will with a competent authority can lend additional legal sanctity and help in the smoother execution of the will upon the testator’s demise. This process, however, is optional and not a requirement for creating a Will in India or the will’s validity.


Legal Framework Surrounding Wills in India


The legal framework surrounding wills in India, governed by Indian will laws, encompasses a comprehensive set of regulations dictating the creation, execution and will registration in India. Understanding the intricacies of creating a will in India and the process of will registration in India is important for individuals seeking to safeguard their assets and ensure the orderly distribution of their estate upon their passing.


  • The Indian Succession Act 1925 


The primary legislation governing wills in India is the Indian Succession Act, 1925. This act provides a comprehensive framework for the execution, revocation and interpretation of the wills. Section 2 of the Act defines a will as “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.” The act ensures that the testator’s wishes are adhered to and that the distribution of assets is done in a fair and lawful manner.


  • The Indian Registration Act of 1908 


The Indian Registration Act of 1908 governs the registration of various types of documents, including wills in India. The following are the provisions governing Wills in India under The Indian Registration Act of 1908:

  • Persons Entitled to Present Wills and Authorities to Adopt (Section 40): This section specifies who is authorized to present a will or an authority to adopt for registration. It states that the testator (the person making the will) or any person claiming as executor or otherwise under a will can present it for registration.
  • Section 41 outlines the process of registering wills and authorities to adopt. It states that a will or an authority to adopt, presented for registration by the testator or donor, can be registered in the same manner as any other document. Additionally, if presented by any other person entitled to do so under Section 40, the will or authority to adopt shall be registered if the registering officer is satisfied that certain conditions are met:
  • That the will or authority was executed by the testator or donor.
  • That the testator or donor is deceased.
  • That the person presenting the will or authority is entitled to do so under Section 40.


How to Create a Valid Will in India


Creating a valid will in India is a fundamental aspect of will registration in India, estate planning for individuals seeking to assert control over the distribution of their assets. Understanding the legal intricacies surrounding the process of creating a will in India and its subsequent registration is crucial for ensuring the document’s validity and enforceability. 


Persons capable of making wills


  • A married woman may dispose by will of any property which she could alienate by her own act during her life.
  • Persons who are deaf or dumb or blind are not thereby incapacitated for making a will if they are able to know what they do by it. 
  • A person who is ordinarily insane may make a will during intervals in which he is of sound mind.
  • No person can make a will while he is in such a state of mind, whether arising from intoxication or from illness or from any other cause, that he does not know what he is doing.


Step-by-step guide on drafting and registering a will


Begin by drafting a clear and comprehensive will that outlines how you wish to distribute your assets, both movable and immovable, among your legal heirs. The following details must be included in a will:

  • Clearly state name, address and relevant personal information.
  • Assert the testator’s soundness of mind, decision-making capability and freedom from coercion.
  • Provide names, addresses, and personal information of beneficiaries with clear asset distribution.
  • Name and information of executor responsible for fair distribution as per the Will.
  • Specify assets and their respective beneficiaries comprehensively.
  • Clearly define portions for each beneficiary, including guardian details for minors.
  • Testator’s signature with two witness attestations for authenticity.


Gathering Necessary Documents: Collect all essential documents, including identification proofs such as PAN card and Aadhaar card, property documents and the original copy of the will.

Choosing the sub-registrar’s Office: Decide on the sub-registrar’s office you will visit for the registration process. It’s crucial to select an office within the jurisdiction where you reside or where your property is located.

Payment of Fees: Pay the necessary registration fees at the sub-registrar’s office. While for registering a will in India stamp duty is not mandatory.

Verification and Witnessing: Visit the chosen sub-registrar’s office accompanied by two witnesses. The sub-registrar will verify your identity, as well as that of the witnesses, before proceeding with the registration process.

Recording and Storing the Will: The sub-registrar will record the details of the will in their official records, ensuring its legal validity. 

  • The signature of the testator is a must.
  • The Witnesses must duly attest to the Will.
  • At least one of the witnesses should have appeared before the court, proving the execution of the court.
  • If the appearing witness fails to prove the attestation by the other witness, then he has not been able to prove the validity and legality of the will, and the other witness shall also have to be produced in court.


Importance of legal advice for foreign nationals


  • It helps foreign nationals comply with local laws and regulations, preventing potential challenges or disputes in the future.
  • Legal advisors can help foreign nationals understand these tax obligations and explore strategies to minimize tax liabilities through proper estate planning.
  • Ensuring that the will meets the requirements for recognition and enforcement in relevant jurisdictions, preventing potential legal challenges during probate proceedings.
  • Foreign nationals may encounter language barriers and cultural differences when navigating the legal system in a foreign country, legal advisors are known to the local language and culture removing these barriers for them.
  • Legal advisors act in the best interests of their clients, ensuring that their wishes are accurately reflected in the will and that their assets are protected against potential disputes or challenges from disgruntled heirs or other parties.




Navigating the legal landscape surrounding wills in India requires a comprehensive understanding of Indian will laws and the intricacies of will registration in India. From drafting a will to ensuring its proper registration, each step in the process is crucial for individuals seeking to safeguard their assets and ensure their testamentary intentions are honored. By adhering to the legal requirements outlined by Indian will laws and seeking expert guidance, individuals can create and register wills in India with confidence.

Creating and registering a will in India must be in accordance with Indian will laws, legal guidance and assistance is important, at A Agarwalla & Co., our team of experienced legal professionals who specialize in estate planning provide tailored solutions to meet your specific needs. Whether you are a citizen or a foreign national, our experts will help to navigate the complexities of Indian will laws and ensure compliance with the regulations for will registration in India.


Frequently Asked Questions


1. What are the steps involved in creating a will in India?


Creating a will in India requires careful consideration and adherence to legal requirements. Begin by drafting a clear and comprehensive will that outlines the distribution of your assets among your beneficiaries. Consider Legal guidance to ensure compliance with Indian will laws and personal preferences.


2. What happens if there is a dispute over the validity or interpretation of a will in India?


In case of a dispute over a will in India, the matter may be resolved through legal proceedings where the court examines evidence, including the will’s contents, witness testimony, and relevant documentation. The court’s objective is to determine the will’s validity and uphold the testator’s intentions, ensuring it was executed freely and without coercion.  


3. How does A Agarwalla & Co.’s expertise contribute to understanding the nuances of will creation in India?


A Agarwalla & Co. with their extensive expertise in Indian will laws and estate planning, provides invaluable guidance in navigating the complexities of will creation. With their deep understanding of legal requirements, tax implications and asset distribution strategies, A Agarwalla & Co. ensures that individuals create legally sound and comprehensive wills that reflect their intentions and protect their assets for future generations.


4. How can a foreign national engage A Agarwalla & Co. for assistance in creating a will in India?


Foreign nationals seeking assistance in creating a will in India can engage A Agarwalla & Co. through email correspondence, or by scheduling appointments through video conferencing.  Our legal experts specialize in guiding foreign nationals through the intricacies of Indian will laws, ensuring compliance with legal requirements and personalized estate planning strategies tailored to their specific needs and circumstances.


5. How long does it take to resolve a dispute over a will in India?


The duration of resolving a dispute over a will in India can vary widely depending on various factors, including the complexity of the case and the number of parties involved. While some disputes may be resolved relatively quickly, others may take several months or even years to reach a final resolution due to their complexities.


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