A Personal Thing, a Family Matter

Show Me the Money

A few weeks ago, I encountered Maria and Jeff. They wrote their wills when they got married. On the 14th June they became the parents of identical twins.

Both Jeff and Maria’s families have a tradition of naming babies after their forebears. They have an elaborate system with charts and graphs. Next names on the rotation were Donald and John. They made a gift of £144 to The British Red Cross so they could abandon the system. Certain anoraks might have spotted the significance of 144 (clues: Trump, twins, 72: 14th June).

A friend told them that to appoint guardians for the twins  they didn’t need to re-write their wills. That all they needed was a ‘letter of wishes’.
‘Sorry to bother you, but is that legal?’ Maria asked when she called me.

Something So Bone-Headed

Yes, but.
Yes, but why would anyone want to do something so bone-headed? With friends like that, eh? Such thinking concentrates on the document. The focus for Maria and Jeff, and the concern for all parents everywhere, should be the process. The process that results in the document.

True, one can appoint guardians without a will. Simply draft an appointment of guardian deed. The appointment must meet the requirements of Section 5 of the Children Act 1989.
So far, so good.

Show Me The Money

Alternative Facts
But these alternative guardianship appointments are like NHS dentists. We know they exist but no one has seen one in decades. In all my years I’ve never seen one of them. I’ve never met anyone who’s seen one of them.

Show Me the Money
Again, why would anyone want to do something so bone-headed?

Such documents are no use in making financial provision for the children, so, what’s the point of them? They also deprive those sorting out your affairs of the clarity that they would have had if you’d used familiar and common formats and procedures.

Stick to the familiar – write a new will. And remember, if I’ve written the original will, I’ll make the amendments free of charge.

The path by which I met Maria and Jeff had as a waystation, Jeff’s father, Fred, who was a client of mine. The £144 charity donation was some sort of joke, an amount which he matched. By arrangement with Fred, my normal referral fee was increased to £72 and donated to the Red Cross. The Red Cross did well out of this.