First of all I would like to thank you immensely for the pro bono service extended by you through the Legal Clinic. I have a question to which I would sincerely appreciate your response.
I am an expatriate in Kuwait. I am employed and my family lives with me. I have a couple of bank accounts and would like to make a will making my wife a nominee. I would also like to include my assets back in India as well.
Can you please guide me as to how I can execute a will in Kuwait which shall be a valid document that could be enforced in Kuwait as well as in India.
Answer: Before we go on to detail what actions you can take in Kuwait, you have to understand what “will” actually means.
There is a misconception that the same involves a lot of legal work and must be drawn up by lawyers. Well that’s not the case. As you are an Indian, we looked at various definitions of “will” — which would directly concern you — but found the following provided by an Indian website www.vakilno1.com to be the most interesting and detailed.
It says “A will is a legal declaration of the intention of a person with respect to his property or a state, which he desires to take effect after his death.
The will is an untitled document which states what should be done with the assets, after the death, of a person making the deposition and it is a document which can be revoked, modified or substituted by the person executing the will at any point during his lifetime. For executing the will the person must be fully competent, as much as he should not be a minor and should not person of unsound mind.
The will has to be in writing and has to state that the person executing the same is making it out of his own free will and is in a sound state of mind. It has to be signed by the executor of the will and has to be attested by two witnesses at least.
The will, under the law, is not required to be compulsory registered. It can be executed even on a plain paper and it can be fully valued even if unregistered. In the event of the person desiring the will to be registered, he has to approach the office of the sub-registrar and has to be accompanied by the persons who have signed as witnesses on the said will.
The executor of the will as well as the attesting witnesses have to put their signatures and thumb impressions in the register maintained by the sub-registrar”. Well, having defined will, in view of the legal challenges one facing these days it is always better — although you can do it yourself right in your home — to have it drawn up by a lawyer and notarized.
In your case you could have the same attested and registered by both the Ministry of Justice in Kuwait, plus your embassy and also by a subregistrar in your own country in the area of your residence.
The will can be handwritten or typed but if it is handwritten then it should be done in the person’s own handwriting and then attested by two witnesses plus (preferably) the executor of the will. To give it strength, to avoid any legal hassles later, you can have it both attested and registered.
Please remember that even if the will is registered, you retain the right to make changes, wholesale if required, or even re-writing the whole thing as many times as you so desire.
And please remember one thing very important — if you don’t have a will then your assets in Kuwait will be disposed off according to Islamic sharia, according to which the wife is not the main beneficiary, and the assets also go to the sons, daughters, mother plus many other members of the family …unless, however, the heirs declare that they wish to have the case settled through the laws of their own country.