Sunday, 27 May 2012

Where there's a Will...

A couple of weeks ago I was accosted by a lady in a shopping centre touting for business for a Will writing company. Well, it's something that has been on our 'List Of Things To Do,' for a while now, getting our Wills written, so I said, 'YES! We'd love to take you up on your kind introductory offer of one hundred English pounds; please come and write our Wills,' which surprised her a bit because I don't think her sales pitch had been going down too well and business was slow. And thus we found ourselves sitting at our kitchen table on Tuesday evening opposite a large red-faced man who looked like he'd be meeting his Maker way before we would, and another man who looked scarily like John Bird, from the old TV show 'Bremner, Bird and Fortune,' who was there for 'quality control.'

'A bit like Ofsted?' I joked, when the Will Writer Chap explained the John-Bird-look-a-like chap's presence.
'Yes,' said the Will Writer Chap. 'Ahahahaha!'

And then he launched straight into a story about his mad Grandpa who was always losing his Will, or accidentally throwing it away with old gas bills, and I tried to reign in the light-hearted chit-chat because of the levity of the situation, and the fact Will Writer Chap was, after all, a sales-man and I'd be putting him off his script if I diverted from the topic too far.

It was all very simple really. The first part. The actual Will making stuff. Andy and I, using our limited  knowledged of what happens to your money after you've gone, and the general agreement  that we couldn't do much about it anyway because we'd be dead, had already decided on executors - our friend Sian and daughter Heather. This decision was made purely on the basis that they are sensible women and therefore more likely to 'get things done properly' and not stuff important paperwork behind the clock on the mantlepiece 'to deal with later after I've been to the pub.'

And we'd already decided, via a fairly simple mathematical equation based on the whole divided by 4 people, and apportioned fractionally according to age and distance, the splitting of our assets after we're both gone. Of course, our main plan is to spend it all as far as is possible, and let the next generation fend for themselves because it would be character-building, but, as Will Writing Chap said, 'We advise people to make their Wills as if they had died yesterday.'

What? I thought. Like 'can't sign it properly because we've gone all stiff?'

Other little things, like personal bequests (of which I have one) could be dealt with via a 'Letter of Wishes.' At least, I think that's what he called it. I remember it sounded like it ought to be in a Peter Pan story. This would be attached to the Will, and the executors would deal with it accordingly ie dish out the goods properly or I'd come back to get 'em with all the ghostly wrath I could muster!

'And what do you want after you've died?' said Will Writing Chap. And then he realised, by our puzzled looks, that he'd been rather vague with his question, and I was already thinking about eating as much Eton Mess and cheese on toast as I wanted without putting on weight. 'I mean,' he continued, 'do you want to be buried or cremated?'

I said, 'I want to be buried.' I am very sure on this matter. I can't be doing with heat. I want to go into one of those natural burial sites and have a tree stuck on top.

Andy said, 'I don't care.'

I thought, is now a good time to mention to Will Writing Chap that I'd already planned, if Andy goes first, to build his coffin out of Doctor Who DVDs and shoot him into a black hole via some kind of vortex? Haven't decided quite how I'm going to achieve this just yet but I'm sure if the situation arises there will be some company somewhere in the world who will offer this service and take the matter from my hands.

So I mentioned it. I felt we needed a bit of humour. And then, because the Will Writing Chap didn't have a box to tick for 'Don't care' or 'Via Doctor Who theme,' and was pressing for an answer, Andy said, 'Oh, I'll be buried, too.'
'Don't you go muscling in on my tree,' I said. 'Ahahahaha!'
'I'll get my own tree, thanks,' said Andy. 'Ahahahahaha!'

The Will Writer Chap ticked his boxes and remained unmoved. I could tell he was getting ready for his BIG SELL. I could see we'd had our Introductory Offer's worth and he was bracing himself for the commission-laden extras.

'So, the next thing to consider is what would happen if one of you needed to go into a care-home after one of you has died,' he began. 'You don't want the local authority to force you to sell your house for care costs and thus deprive your beneficiaries of their inheritance, do you?'

No I don't, I thought. Especially as I didn't vote for them and their enormous expenses allowance.
I know Andy was thinking, I don't care, I'll be senile at best and dead at the worst. Or vice versa.

I shut off at this point. And the point when he started talking about the importance of KNOWING WHERE YOUR WILL IS AT ALL TIMES, and MAKING REGULAR UPDATES and HELPING YOUR EXECUTORS MANAGE THE PROCESS OF PROBATE.

I re-engaged long enough to say, 'So how much are these optional extras going to cost?'

Will Maker Chap looked rather startled, that me, a mere woman, should be so alert to the subtlety of his sales-pitch at half-past nine in the evening.

He coughed. He said, 'Fivehundredandfifteenpoundsforthefirstoptionplusanotherninehundredandninetyfivepoundsforourlifetimecarepackage.'

So, I thought, you've come out here to schmooze us with your £100 Introductory Offer and you are now expecting us to part with an extra £1510 just like that?

I said, 'Thank you; we'll think about it,' which is Denise-speak for 'HA! You must be joking!'

He's calling tomorrow night to see if we are going to take up any of the extra services. He offered us 0% finance to spread the costs over a year. So he's not expecting us to pop our clogs soon, then.

And when our Wills arrive, I am going to deliberately hide them somewhere obscure and make sure a game of 'Hunt For Mad Gran's Will' is in the funeral wake celebrations.

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