Where there’s a Will (or maybe not…)
7 March 2017 by Anastasia Packman
What do you listen to on the radio between 5pm and 6pm? I know my husband prefers Simon Mayo on Radio 2 but I prefer the PM programme on Radio 4. Since last September they have been featuring a weekly interview with Steve Hewlett – he was most famous for producing Panorama in particular the notorious interview with Princes Diana where she disclosed there were three people in her marriage. Steve had been diagnosed with cancer and as a journalist thought it important to share his experiences. He became touched by “the sense of connection it has created with the audience I don’t think I’ve felt before”.
Amongst other things we heard that he married his long term girlfriend Rachel at one hour’s notice and after the programme Radio 4 was deluged with listeners urging Steve to check his Will. If Steve had signed a standard Will this would have been cancelled by his marriage but it was reported that he had signed a special type of Will (called a Will in contemplation) which had not been cancelled. Such a Will has to envisage a marriage to a particular person rather than marriage in general.
Some people think that because marriage cancels a standard Will divorce does the same but this is not the case as after a divorce a Will stands but references to a former spouse are ignored.
Wills can also be cancelled by being shredded or burnt or by making a new Will but the word “cancelled” written across the Will has no effect at all. Similarly crossing out an inheritance does not mean anything and the inheritance still has to be paid.
The moral of the above is to make sure any alterations are done properly and a Will is looked at if circumstances change. Recently Network Rail reported that after storm Doris the wrong sorts of leaves were on the tracks – they were still attached to the trees! Make sure that you don’t end up with the wrong sort of alterations on your Will or possibly no Will at all.