You can’t take it with you

Human nature being what it is, stories about disputes arising after a death tend to be viewed as more interesting than the making of a will itself.

However, in a series on BBC2 entitled ‘You can’t take it with you’ Sir Gerry Robinson is looking at the stories of a number of people involved in the process of making a will.

The first episode featured gambler and three times married David and his wife, cat-loving Lesley, who stated that she loved cats but could ‘take or leave’ people. Similarly interesting people and situations are promised in the rest of the series.

Behind the drama, however, were a number of more sober themes – the importance of making a will, of properly considering the options with the assistance of professional advice and the potential problems that can arise if you die without a will.

Both couples involved in the first episode featured at least one spouse who had children from a previous marriage and, as Sir Gerry Robinson commented, the complexities of modern relationships make will writing and the striking of a balance between various family members much more difficult.

However, even for those whose personal situation is more straightforward, e.g single people, unmarried couples with no children, a married couple with young children etc, it is perhaps unlikely that your estate will be dealt with as you would wish in the event of your death.

With such a high number of people dying without a will and a fast increasing number of expensive disputes arising over the estates of those who have died, it is to be hoped that the exposure a programme like ‘You can’t take it with you’ gives to the issue, will encourage many people to tackle a process they might otherwise prefer to put off.

This article was written by Lee McClellan, a Partner in the Wills, Trusts and Probate department.

January 2011