What do we put in our wills?

This post is brought to you by our friends at Contact Law.

Many of us live to enjoy the present, adhering to the motto of Carpe Diem, and easily forget to plan for the future distribution of our assets. Any legal professional will tell you that having a valid will is crucial, and that the sooner you find a solicitor, who can help you with the matter, the better.

The true importance of a will is not always fully realised. A valid will is the best guarantee that our assets and other belongings will be divided according to our wishes. Keeping in mind the importance of a will, it might come as a surprise that will-writing is not regulated. An investigation carried out by the Legal Services Board (LSB) has revealed that many clients receive far from the best service from their will writer. The LSB is now calling for regulation on will-writing and estate administration in order to guarantee better consumer protection.

One can only imagine the horror of a will not being properly prepared and, for instance, lacking the name of the will maker or containing the wrong information. The LSB uncovered several incidents where clients had, for example, been charged too much or fallen victims of fraud. As these problems often only arise once the will-maker has passed away, it is the beneficiaries who are left to deal with the matter. Although most wills specify that the majority of the deceased’s assets should be left to loved ones, and perhaps a part to charity, there are those who ensure to find a solicitor who can help them to specify more uncommon arrangements it their wills.

Indeed, it is not unheard of that people leave fortunes to strangers or pets. The will of the late Canadian lawyer Charles Vance Millar was filled with peculiar bequests. A part of the will famously read: “This Will is necessarily uncommon and capricious because I have no dependents or near relations and no duty rests upon me to leave any property at my death and what I do leave is proof of my folly in gathering and retaining more than I required in my lifetime”. Vance Miller chose to distribute his estate in a rather unique manner. For instance, he left his holiday home in Jamaica to three men who despised each other on joint lifetime tenancy. His final bequest is often thought to be the most peculiar of them all. He wanted his estate to be liquidised ten years after his death and allocated to the Toronto woman who had given birth to the most children in that time, or distributed equally between several women if there was a tie. The following unique “competition” became known as the Great Stork Derby.

June 13, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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