Six unusual things to consider when writing your will

January 14, 2016

We’ve talked a lot about writing wills lately, and for good reason. It’s important. If you die without a will, all sorts of complications arise. For example, your children would automatically receive their inheritance at age 18, even if they’re not ready to manage a large amount of money. Your partner might not necessarily inherit all of your estate, and the people you wanted to get your sentimental items might not end up getting them. See? We told you it was important!

But, as well as the basic ‘who gets what’ (which we’ve outlined here) aspect of a will, there’s also some other things that you might not know about the process. Oh, and if you’ve got a sense of humour, or are slightly odd, your will might give you an opportunity to have one last laugh! Let’s take a look at the quirkier aspects of wills:

People don’t have to take what you leave them

It’s all very well leaving your nephew your car, but there’s nothing that says that he has to take it. I mean, why did you buy a brown car in the first place? Who chooses brown? Seriously.

There are a variety of reasons why people might reject something that’s been left to them. As well as simply not wanting the item, inheriting money may affect their own financial situation somehow, such as increasing someone’s estate and in turn impacting their own tax position, or reducing their eligibility for grants of some kind.

You can leave Rover to someone

UK Law treats your pets as property, which means that you can (and should!) make provision for them in your will. The first thing to do would be to decide who you would like to care for your pets if you die. Just like when we discussed who you would like to look after your kids in the event of your death, this is a conversation that you’ll need to have well in advance. Don’t forget that caring for a pet costs money, so it’s also a good idea to leave some funds to cover the cost of caring for your pet.

Want something specific at your funeral? Put it in

If you have made decisions on your burial wishes, or perhaps want some specific songs played at your funeral, then you can put funeral instructions into your will. Of course, like Charles Dickens, you won’t be around to ensure that your wishes are enforced, which is why Dickens’ request for a private funeral without scarves, cloaks or other ‘revolting absurdity’ were completely ignored, and his funeral was a national event!

Speaking of which…you can also do some weird stuff…

When famous illusionist Harry Houdini died, his last wish was that his wife hold an annual seance so he could converse with her. It never worked. Or how about the final wishes contained within the will of Charles Millar, an enigmatic Canadian investor known for his sense of humour, who not only left a holiday home to three people that he knew hated each other, but also left a large pot of money to the woman who gave birth to the most children in the next ten years.

While it’s unlikely that you’ll replicate the bizarre requests in these two examples, a will is your last chance to speak to the world. It’s up to you what you put in it!

Your will can be contested

A thorough, clear and detailed will is there to outline your wishes upon your death. But a will can be contested if someone feels aggrieved by what is or isn’t included in the will, or if the validity of the will is in question.

Not anyone can contest a will, however. It is restricted to family, dependents or a surviving partner. The validity of the will can be challenged in a number of ways, such as arguing that the person making the will was not of ‘sound mind’ at the time of writing it, that some of the formalities of drafting a will weren’t met, or that there was some undue influence on the person.

And someone may challenge the will in the event that ‘reasonable provision’ hasn’t been made for them (such as a child of the deceased), based on their current or future financial needs.

You need impartial witnesses

Closely linked to the last point is the need for impartial witnesses. It would be easy to contest a will where everything was left to Steve if Steve also happened to be a witness to the will. The Wills Act was passed by the UK government in 1837, and requires that two adult, independent persons see the act of the person signing their will and are prepared to add their details to the will to prove this.

So there you have it. Six quirky things that you might not have known about writing a will. If you’re about to embark on your own will-writing journey, we recommend Ann-Marie Matthews at Barker Gotelee Solicitors. Give her a call on 01473 350574 and let her know we sent you!


This article is for general use only and is not intended to address your particular requirements. It should not be relied upon in its entirety and shall not be deemed to be or constitute advice.

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