I meet people of all sorts, but a sizeable cohort of my clientele is retirement. They are all keen to avoid fights over their inheritance.
The other day I accepted an invitation to the summer barbeque of the English department at my local secondary school. To no surprise, the conversation turned to Charles Dickens’s works. Someone mused on how the author contrived not to avoid the inheritance fight central to Bleak House.
We spoke about Bleak House.
You might recall the inheritance dispute central to the plot – Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Let’s canter through its broad range of characters, firstly, Richard, whose frustration at his entanglement with the lawsuit wears him to death. We recall the pompous Sir Leicester Dedlock,and the coldly calculating lawyer Tulkinghorn. Finally, Grindley and Miss Flite who are both ruined by the Court of Chancery.
It was endless
The case went on, and on, to the joy of the lawyers, who saw it a gift – to be grasped with both hands rather than examining the mouth of the horse bearing it. The words from the book are: ‘…the various solicitors in the cause, some two or three of whom have inherited it from their fathers, who made a good fortune by it…’
Bleak House Revisited
Meet Zoe, she is Head of English at an independent school of which you’ve most certainly heard. She has a doctorate in the works of Dickens.
Most clients approach me, whether they express it or not, with the object of prevention. They are aware of the possibility of anguish, distress and expense resulting from not treating their inheritance as if it were important. They want to prevent the ugliness of inheritance fights. In short, they approach me for prophylaxis.
You know as I do, the superiority of prevention to cure. Alas, the good doctor, in need of a cure, collapsed in my arms in despair. She’d been at the rough end of an inheritance dispute. The case had gone two years, and the health of all participants had been harmed by the farrago of the case. She totted up all the cash she’d shelled out on this misadventure. By her spreadsheet, she’d laid out as much as she’d earned in the last year.
Yet, three hours past our introduction to each other, her face was wreathed in smiles. She no longer looked as if she were her mother’s twin. We’d cracked the case. Thirty-three days after our first meeting, all was dusted and done. Not to bang my own drum, but all parties got, very nearly, all they wanted.
And, for Avoidance…
Dr Symonds enquired: ‘How could we have avoided this mountain of costly nonsense?
I mustered a conspiratorial tone, and responded: ‘This is what I say to everybody: let the important people know there’s a will, let them know what’s in it, let them know where to find it.’
To avoid inheritance fights in your family, contact me on 020 8669 1779.
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