Six quirks to consider when writing your will

There is no escaping the fact that writing your will is 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.

But, as well as the basic ‘who gets what’ aspect of a will, there are 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

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. Also, 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 séance 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 know 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, dependants 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 the 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, get in touch with us here at Barker Gotelee.

Ann-Marie Matthews is a solicitor in the private client team at Barker Gotelee, Solicitors in Suffolk.

Ipswich Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email