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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Thinking of Making a Will? Don't! It's a very bad idea!

Wills make money for lawyers, who tirelessly promote their virtues. But, basically, they are a scam. Like "Payment Protection Insurance", they are unnecessary; like "Divorce Settlements", often botched or unfair.

The Wills which used to annoy me were made by those with no idea how much they were worth, how much longer they might live, or what inflation does to the value of money. Solicitors do not judge it their business to interfere with stupidity; it is, after all, a fine source of income.

People would go through all the rigmarole at the solicitor's office and bequeath £500 to their Loyal Housekeeper / Companion / Dogwalker and the rest to the Dogs' Home. They would then live for another twenty years by which time the moderately generous £500 had turned into an insult and the Dogs' Home would pick up an astonishing quarter of a million thanks to rising house prices. This explains why there are so many Dogs' Homes.

There are alternatives. My Mother (legally separated from my father) bought a Will from Woolworths for sixpence and left me, her only child, everything. It took one sentence and two witnesses. My Father, who outlived her by many years, died intestate but since I was his only child too, I simply applied for Probate and inherited his Estate. Had he had two children, we would both have applied for Probate and been entitled to half each.

Neither of my parents put any money into the pockets of solicitors.

My Auntie Nellie did, and caused a lot of disappointment because she said or implied one thing to her relatives and did another in the solicitor's office and never got round to bringing her Will into line with what she was (sometimes) saying, or vice versa.

I got the lot, much to the fury of two relatives who thought they were also in line. (They learnt they had been tricked a week before she died since they had gone in to her home and hunted around for her Will. Rather than let me know that she was gravely ill (would I like to visit?), they hurried to the Hospital and pressed her to make death bed changes. The Hospital ruled that she was incapable of doing so. None of this did I know until she was dead.)

Anyway, I have just recently INVENTED an alternative to the Solicitor's Will, the Woolworths Will, and the Intestate Solution.

On my computer desktop, there is now an Icon labelled "Letter of Intent". Click to read it and it tells you (my children actually, since I am divorced and live alone) what I want to happen when I die and what I want to happen to the money and the knick knacks. I don't expect them to click on the Icon until I am dead. There ought to be some surprises in life - and death. But I can assure them of this: the Dogs' Home is getting nothing.

One advantage of this Desktop Solution is that I can tinker with the Letter as and when. My Aunt's problem was partly that she became too old and frail to want to bother with another trip to the Solicitor. At some point, she realised that her neighbours were being very helpful to her and so she scribbled a little list of Bequests on a scrap of paper (which I found later). In order that the Bequests did not have the character of insults, I had to add a nought to every figure she had specified.

My children can find the Desktop Icon easily without having to root through drawers (I have many more drawers than Nellie had) and they can print it off, forward it and so on. Probably I should keep a hard copy just in case of Hard Disc Disaster.

There you are, free gratis and for nothing an alternative to putting on a tie, polishing your shoes and heading off to the Solicitor.

1 comment:

  1. But you’ve just made a case for a will. Had your aunt not made one, her other two relatives – whom she apparently wanted to exclude – would have been in line for a cut of her estate. Had she been in a position to adopt your solution, a document stored on a computer, it would have been liable to hacking by the unscrupulous.