Types of Will in India


The Will or Testament describes how the testator's assets will be distributed after his or her death. It often identifies who will take care of those assets from their initial allocation until their final distribution to the legal heirs. Those who die without a Will are said to be intestate.

To ensure your wishes are honoured, it's essential to understand the laws related to wills in India. Creating a will is an important step that can provide peace of mind and security for you and your loved ones. In India, there are nine types of will. each will have unique characteristics and purposes, and it's important to understand their differences. Given in detail below:

Privileged Will

This kind of a will can only be formed by a soldier, airman, or mariner engaged in an expedition or warfare and is known as a privileged will. It is a special kind of will and can be explicitly made in extraordinary circumstances. People employed in the area mentioned above are exempted from the law to go through the legal requirements and are offered the privilege to make much simpler wills.

It can be made in writing or orally and if written by the testator, does not require a signature or a witness. If the will is written wholly or partly by any other person apart from the testator, it will still be considered a valid will if proven that it was written on the testator's instructions.

Unprivileged Will

Every type of will other than privileged will is called unprivileged, which the common masses will make. There are certain conditions to be fulfilled before considering them valid.

  • The testator or the other person in the presence of the testator needs to sign or mark the will;
  • It requires attestation by two or more witnesses, and each witness will sign the will in the presence of the testator;
  • The signing of the will should be conducted in the presence or personal acknowledgment of the testator. 

Learn more about Unprivileged Will in India

Conditional or Contingent Will

Those types will become effective only after certain conditions are fulfilled or when a contingency occurs. It depends on the happening of a future event like attaining a certain age. Thus, the will is legally invalid if either of the contingencies occurs or the conditions are not met.

Joint Will

It's a type of will in which two or more people, usually married couples, form one will together. The will may be enforced after the death of either the signatories or only one, depending on the conditions of the agreement. Meaning the will shall determine the treatment of assets of the joint owner once one spouse dies or when both die. It is pertinent to note that the terms of such a will cannot be altered even after the death of one testator.

Concurrent Will

Usually, only one will is made per person; however, if anyone wishes to make multiple wills they can do so to dispose of their properties. Depending on the property's location, separate wills may be needed, or one may handle the distribution of immovable property while the other deals with movable property. Such co-existing wills are called concurrent wills. 

Mutual Will

It is a type of will that is made when two people mutually make a will based on certain terms and conditions. Also known as reciprocal wills, these are separate wills in which the testators can make themselves each other's legatees and allot each other benefits.

They are usually made by married couples, mainly in cases where it is the second marriage. It assures that the deceased spouse's property is passed down to the surviving partner's children, not to the new spouse (if the surviving partner remarries). It is an irrevocable will and expresses a mutual intention of the testators.

Duplicate Will

As the name indicates, it is a duplicate of the original will and needs to be signed and attested similarly to an original will. Duplicate wills are created for security purposes to ensure correct execution of will post-death of the testator. The original copy of the will is kept with the testator, executor, or any other authorized person, while the additional copy is kept safely in a bank locker.

Sham Will

Such kinds of wills are made with some ulterior intention, like acquiring a property that does not belong to the claimant or cheating someone. The main element of any will is the intention of the testator who is making the will and sham wills are made out of fraud or bad intent that take away the free agency of the testator. 

Holograph Will

This type of will is written by the testator with his or her own hands and is highly legitimate. More emphasis is put on executing them properly, though a witness is not needed in such kinds of wills.

When the testator's handwriting needs to be deciphered and verified, it can hinder the execution of his or her will after his or her death. As the length and complexity of terms in the will increase, the vexation created is further exacerbated, creating trouble for the family members.