Anyone over 50 who doesn’t have a will deserves to be locked in a room of squabbling lawyers for as long as it takes them to realise the error of their ways. The puny excuse of death being a distant and unlikely possibility no longer stands; everyone over 50 has to recognise that the grim reaper might now drop by unannounced any day, and it’s part of being a fully-fledged grown up to acknowledge that fact and not leave a great big mess for those left behind.
That’s a view shared by leading business guru Sir Gerry Robinson, last seen on our TV screens tackling care homes. Now, in a new six part TV series Can’t Take It with You (BBC Two, Fridays) he tackles the subject of the emotional dilemmas people face in writing a will, working alongside a leading lawyer to provide real people with help in wrestling with the often taboo process of dividing up their estate.
Dying without a will can lead to people you love receiving nothing, or paying huge tax bills unnecessarily. Yet, shockingly, around 70% of people in the UK do not have a legally valid will – leaving their families not only very vulnerable but in the position of having to sort out a very complex and emotionally charged situation at a time when they may be feeling least able.
Last week’s programme (the first in the series) accentuated very clearly how choosing between the people you love is never easy when it comes to writing a will - what do you do if you have remarried and now have step-children to think of, in addition to your own kids? What if one of your children has gone off the rails? What if you can’t agree with your partner on the best way to divide everything up? Having observed these problems in the show, one had to admire those who had volunteered to appear.
Sir Gerry says: “I was astonished to discover how many people in this country haven’t written a legally-binding will … Would you rather write your will yourself, or have the government write it for you by default?”
The remainder of the series will, no doubt, make interesting viewing. Having tackled wills, it would be great if programme makers could seize the moment and deal with the even thornier issue of pensions next…
To view the first programme click here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/xk05j/