“Do you know what you want to happen when you die?”
The solicitor was pen-poised.
“Yep,” said Bloke. “It’s straightforward.”
Things with men usually are, aren’t they? They see black, they see white. They leave 50 million shades of grey to us.
“Yes,” said I. “Apart from lots of weeping and a few Elvis songs at my funeral, it’s complicated...”
Before I re-married, it was all so simple. Everything I had amassed would go to my son.
I realised he’d probably send all the stuff I’ve cluttered every corner of my life with to a charity shop or make a bonfire of them. It’s a sad but brutal fact that the precious things we spend a lifetime garnering simply become either our relatives’ trash, or something to sell on Flog It!
But the dosh I have in bricks and mortar would surely provide him with a cushion; a material version of the maternal bosom. Only, Bloke is now the spanner in the works. Nothing can be that straightforward any more because there are two people I love and want to provide for on my demise.
It’s not fair for my son to have everything and for Bloke to end up homeless. And yet, if I die tomorrow without a will, he could end up with everything.
He’s childless and adamant he would in turn leave everything to my son. And I trust him implicitly. Only, who knows what’s around the corner? While leaving a dozen red roses on my grave one day, aka Joe diMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, he could meet some lovely lass, wed her and have five kids.
The one thing I do know I want when I die is no arguments. Bereavement can splinter many a family and a step-family is even more vulnerable. People argue over who had what to start with and who didn’t contribute tuppence to that new patio. I discovered that when my dad died.
It needed sorting out and November was the month to do it in. Sheffield firm Bell and Buxton had signed up to the Will Aid scheme. In November lawyers waive their fee and you make a donation to the NSPCC.
So there we were, attempting to do what 30 per cent of the population never do. Make our wills.
It was far more complicated than even I had expected. It called for many ‘what if’ scenarios and total frankness (solicitors often have to prevent couples from coming to blows).
So, after much deliberating, I’m making what’s called a discretionary trust. It sounds posh but it isn’t; lots of step-families have them. My house is Bloke’s until he dies, but Boy can apply for money if he needs it.
It’s a relief it’s done. But it’s far from dead and buried. If I pop my clogs in the middle of MasterChef tonight, our will IS our will. But we’ve realised a will just can’t be forever. It should change to reflect life’s twists and turns.
We will need to do what 50 per cent of people with wills don’t do: revisit it again and again to ensure thy will be done - with no squabbling and no-one dancing on your grave.