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Felicity McClintock

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You can't take it with you

Who would have thought a TV programme about wills could fire up so much interest?

The new BBC2 series, Can’t take it with you has certainly given people something to think about. Presented by business guru Sir Gerry Robinson, the series focuses on many of the issues that people don’t generally like to talk about.

In the first episode, Sir Gerry helped two couples who were torn over what to write in their wills.

Both the wives involved were childless whereas the husbands had children, or step-children from previous marriages. In both cases, the men wanted to make sure their children were looked after but the wives disagreed, wanting to leave everything they jointly owned to charity or good causes.

By setting out all the legal options plainly, the programme helped the couples to find amicable ways of settling their differences.

The solution in each of these particular cases was to use trusts as a way of making provision for children from the previous marriages. This is an effective way to make sure that both the new partner and the children can benefit fairly, with the children ultimately receiving what the parent partner considers to be their entitlement.

Deciding who gets what in a will can be one of the hardest choices anyone can have to make. But making no decisions at all and dying without a will can cause devastating and long-lasting family rifts.

As Gerry Robinson commented in the programme: “Writing a will is not really about the process of getting it down in black and white, it’s about dealing with emotional issues within families, which is absolutely bloody difficult".

Our experienced team deals with situations like those in the programme on a daily basis. We are also regularly instructed by larger accountancy firms and IFAs to assist in connection with trusts, wills and probate matters, advising many entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium-sized businesses.

For a checklist of the sort of issues you need to consider when making your will, contact partner Jenifer Gillman.