“When you die, can I have your hippos and the farm please?” Grace enquired recently. The question came out of the blue, as questions often do when your daughter is 10 and possesses a vivid imagination. I assured her that yes, she could have the hippos, however, the farm would be shared equally with her and her siblings. She seemed to think that meant she’d get the farm and the cows because “Angus is only interested in the quad bikes.” Later, this conversation made me think about how my will is structured and whether (once my husband and I are no longer) the children will bicker over small knick knacks. It’s often the ‘little’ things that carry the greatest sentiment and fond memory. I hope the way we have structured our Will obviates this.
I’m not one to focus on death, but it is inevitable so I want to make sure those I love are protected and supported once my husband and I are gone. That’s why I agreed to highlight the work of the State Trustees office of Victoria and the importance of a good legal Will. Did you know that, in Australia, 50 per cent of couples expecting a baby don’t have a Will? Yikes! And 55 per cent of Australian parents with children under the age of 18 don’t have a Will either. That’s an even scarier statistic. In Victoria, it’s I Will Week from 17-23 June. This year the State Trustees office pose the question, “Love it? Will it”, suggesting that regardless of what it is you love, you make sure it’s protected with a good legal will. As part of the campaign, they are offering Victorians 30% off the standard price of preparing a consultative Will**. If you live elsewhere, you can contact your local public trustee to see what Will services they have available. I urge you to do so if you’re yet to make a Will. It’s not hard, it’s not scary but it will help ensure the ones you leave behind are protected.
Some bequests throughout history are hilarious and somewhat quirky:
Playwright William Shakespeare left his second best bed to his wife. While there was no mention of what happened to the best bed, she did get the rest of the furniture too.
A Portuguese aristocrat randomly picked 70 strangers from a Lisbon phone book 13 years before his death and made them his beneficiaries. They didn’t find out until after he died.
Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw left the bulk of his fortune to develop a new alphabet.
Finnish businessman Onni Nurmi left shares of a rubber boot company to the residents of a nursing home in Finland. The company later became Nokia, raking in substantial earnings for the nursing home residents.
Marilyn Monroe left all of her clothes, underwear and personal effects to her acting coach Lee Strasberg with the request that he distribute it amongst her friends and family. Unfortunately, Strasberg ignored her instructions, bequeathing them to his widow, who sold them in 1999 for over $13.4 million.
Napoleon Bonaparte asked for his head to be shaved and for his clippings to be given to his friends and family.
In Henry Budd’s last Will and Testament he left £200,000 in 1862 in trust for his two sons on the condition that neither of them grew a moustache. In another Will, Matthias Flemming left his employees £10 each in 1869 except for those with a moustache who only got £5 each.
Until next time…
**Conditions apply to the 30 per cent discount offer, so please refer to the full terms and conditions which are available at www.iwillweek.com.au