Where There’s a Will, there’s a much easier way

Today is the anniversary of my mother’s death, and the end of a year dealing with selling her house, dealing with the court of protection, a will created 45 years ago,  and a convoluted legal process made no easier by the extraordinary way in which solicitors seem to proceed.   But today is a blog in thanks, celebration, with a quick word of advice to my reader.

My mother brought me into this world, and her mother (my Nan) and her later partner (my step-father Pete) gave me a grounding and role models that have influenced me throughout my life.  Nan was an acclaimed amateur actress. Pete was an amateur lighting designer and creator of a theatre in Trinidad. And my mother gave up her young London swinging 60s life to give me a start.  Thank you to all three of you, and to my two boarding school/charitable foundations – Dorset House from Aged 8 near Pulborough, and then Christ’s Hospital from Aged 10 near Horsham.  Great education, wonderful experiences, that I still draw on 40+ years later.

With my mother’s death we were able to divide her Estate to help those people and organisations that through closing down her outward life and then moving into full-blow Alzheimers, she did not remember. I hope we chose wisely.  Her two grandchildren are now supported in getting part of a deposit towards their first step on property. Her old school has named a poetry prize after her.  The youth people’s theatre company she loved to watch in earlier times has some funds for production.  The amateur company where Pete and I did lighting work has some funds. And of course the home which looked after her, the Alzheimer’s Society that fights against this disease, and the RNLI who scattered both Pete and my mother to final rest, have all had some funds to help them.   And yes, Kath and my life has changed too with some mortgage being paid off.  So thank you Mrs Sally Grady.

But oh, if only,  we had been able to have sensible conversations with a fully compus-mentis senior about her finances.  At least there was a will, but so much of the money had to be paid over to solicitors and to the government in inheritance tax, and to the court of protection to deal with her incapacity, and to the nursing home for care. So much of this money could have been saved if there had been some planning.   So this blog is to make a plea.  If you have any funds. If you have property. If you have a partner. If you have children. If you have a feeling that you would rather your funds went to your chosen relatives or charities, rather than the government….  Then make a Will.  And then keep it relatively up to date.

In my case the government and solicitors received far more than Sally’s grand-daughter or grand-son.  The solicitor received 3 times the amount that went to the RNLI.  The court of protection and the insurance company they engaged received far more than youth theatre charity.  I don’t think my mother would have liked that at all. Would you ??

So where there’s a will, there’s a much easier way.