Ulster folk are not keen to make a Will says research

Sandra Chapman
Sandra Chapman

The summer flowers are dying in their pots, trees are shedding leaves and that distinct chill in the air which wasn’t there last week can means just one thing, autumn has arrived and nature is taking its rest.

I also attended a funeral this week of a dear man, his passing reminding those of us who admired him greatly that we, his friends, part of that baby boomer generation, are the next generation who may or may not be preparing for what’s ahead.

A few days later I read that nearly 80 per cent of people in Northern Ireland have failed to make a Will.

Our friend’s funeral and that story reminded the pair of us that though we’ve made a Will it hasn’t been updated in decades. It’s the sort of Will young couples perhaps make in a hurry when they buy their first house and then forget about.

In fact last year we had dragged our neglected Will out in the process of selling our last house to buy the current one we live in.

A solicitor would have been horrified. There we are 50 years on with sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren, never mind an extended family and not a mention of anyone but ourselves in the Will.

Suffice to say, we are now sorting this out, a task far more difficult than either of us imagined. In fact we’ve nearly fallen out at times over it.

I wanted to mention my pets in it – yes, the dog and two cats – a suggestion that left Himself speechless for hours. Yet I’m serious.

If both us got wiped out in a car accident, for example, who would look after my pets with a lot of life in them still and whom I adore? It’s still an ongoing issue, set aside for the moment.

Northern Ireland in fact is the top region in the UK for adults dying intestate according to a study by the charity Will Aid and so far this year 53 per cent of adults here have failed to prepare the essential paperwork, compared to 51 per cent last year.

Maybe they are waiting for the dark nights to set in properly, after all, it’s so hard to think of Wills whilst out enjoying the summer sunshine or walking the dog.

The charity says figures here are much higher than across the UK as a whole. Northern Ireland obviously isn’t the only place where Will making is neglected.

Will Aid’s study reveals that after Northern Ireland comes the North East and North West of England.

The Northern Ireland figure in fact is ``almost 20 per cent higher than the other nations within the UK’’ ays Peter de Vena Franks, campaign director for Will Aid.

Maybe we can blame Brexit for distracting us from what should be an essential task. Most of us imagined extricating ourselves from the EU might be fairly straight forward – after all becoming a member of what was then the Common Market was a dawdle – but it’s turning out to be a real car-crash with a Prime Minister pursuing a course which, at most, only a minority of politicians are happy with leaving the rest of us looking on in horror. Making a Will has something of that sort of concern about it.

So how do people make a Will that satisfies everyone they are leaving behind? Himself, a person who doesn’t like confrontation, would, I suspect, prefer we didn’t go into too much detail, happy in the knowledge that he wouldn’t be around anyway to see if there are any big fall-outs or disruption.

But I like things cut and dried even if I have ignored our Will for just about the length of time we are married which is 50 years next year.

It’s a well-known fact that the rich always make detailed Wills.

They take lots of expensive legal advice on how to deal with a State that sees family fortunes as a source of income for them to spend or maybe waste on public services. The rich know all the financial manoeuvres. It’s ordinary people like us who lose sleep over The Will.