There’s nothing like the sniff of money to bring family and those closely related out of the woodwork when it comes to the death of a potentially wealthy relative. Across the reaches of time there have been some unsightly bun fights for the assets of a deceased when the possibility of a big inheritance is in the air.
All the more reason then why you should have a valid last Will and testament so that you can be sure that your assets are going to go where you wanted them to go.
Probably the quintessential scrap of all time over the assets of a deceased estate also happens to involve the shortest Will ever presented and accepted for probate. It happened in the United Kingdom in the year 1906. The Will of the deceased simply said “All to Mother”. Now anyone in their right mind would have to suspect that such a Will could lead to trouble and this one sure did.
The court proceedings which ensued over that particular estate saw the wife and the deceased’s mother going at it toe to toe over the inheritance, both claiming legal right to the assets of the estate.
The outcome of it all was that the court found in favour of the wife. You might read that with an air of incredulity because it doesn’t seem all that logical. However in that case, compelling evidence was brought before the court that in making his Will the deceased had in mind his wife, whom he was proved to have regularly and consistently addressed as, you guessed it, ‘mother’!
If there is a lesson to be learned from that case it is that in making a will, the thing which is of the utmost importance is clarity and a total lack of possible ambiguity. By all means be brief with your Will but above all else, please make it clear and concise.
If the deceased in that case had known the furor that would erupt following his death, it is almost certain he would have thought more about how to do a will before putting pen to paper. Wills do not need to be as long as War and Peace. The longest recorded Will submitted for probate was 155 pages long which frankly, is just a load of nonsense.
You can clearly and concisely do all you need to do in a will in one page if you know what you are doing. You need to appoint trustees and state that you revoke prior Wills and after that, make clear provision for the disposition of your assets following your death. Provided you carefully ensure the Will is then witnessed correctly you should be fine.
So do you need a lawyer to do show you how to do a will? For complicated Wills the answer is certainly a resounding yes. However if you have in mind a straightforward Will which leaves everything to your partner and then on their death, to the children, then it is actually possible to make a will using one of the quality DIY products available in the market place.
The secret in making a Will is to exercise a degree of common sense and make sure those reading it on your death are going to have no trouble understanding it and ensuring that your bidding is done. It’s a pity the gentleman in question in 1906 didn’t have a bit better advice in how to do a will because a lot of unnecessary time and money could have been saved.