A will is a legal document that enables an individual to set out wishes as to what they would like to happen to their property and assets when they die.
The Wills Act 1837 is the legislation in place that governs this area of law, although the creation of a last will and testament is a tradition going back as far as Ancient Greek and Roman times.
Current legislation states that in order for a will to be valid it must be in writing and properly executed in the presence of two witnesses by an adult (i.e. someone aged 18 or over) who is of sound mind, who knows and approves the contents, and who is not making the will under the undue influence of a third party.
The contents of the will itself, however, can be as straightforward or as quirky as you like.
writing a will can be romantic…
US comedian Jack Benny included a clause in his will for a red rose to be delivered every day to his wife until her death. Every day from the date of her husband’s death, Mary Livingstone did receive one long-stemmed red rose to her home. She stated that “for the first few weeks, I was in a state of deep mourning. It never occurred to me to ask who the roses were coming from.” Eventually, she called the florist and asked… “He told me that a while before Jack passed away he stopped in to send a bouquet of flowers to a friend. As Jack was leaving, he suddenly turned back and said ‘David, if anything should happen to me, I want you to send my doll a red rose every day…’ When the florist finished, I was silent for a moment, and tears started running down my face. I thanked him and said good-bye.” Subsequently, Mary learnt that Jack had actually included a provision for the flowers in his will. One red rose continued to be delivered each day until her death in 1983.
…or less so
Your will can also place certain conditions on individuals who inherit. For example, German poet Heinriche Heine left his entire estate to his wife on the condition that she remarried. If she did not, she would not be entitled to inherit the estate. His will stated that she had to remarry to inherit, so that there was “at least one man to regret my death”.
writing a will means planning for the future
As you can see from the above you are free (within reason) to do whatever you like in your will! It’s strongly recommended that you do put a will in place, in order to plan ahead and to stipulate what will happen to your estate after you die.
If you would like more advice or to review or put a new will in place please contact our Private Client Team who will be happy to help you. Call 0117 302 1420.