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Will parties

24 October 2014

JAYNE BENNETT, a counselling psychologist based in Chester, has an interest in will-making which stems from her childhood. When she was six, and her brother was five, her family moved to South Africa from the UK. Their parents told them that, if anything happened to them, their wills were in the middle drawer of the sideboard.

"We knew that we would initially go to one of my mum's friends or colleagues, and then be flown back to live with an aunt back in England," Ms Bennett says. "Fortunately, we never had to resort to finding their wills."

That experience reinforced for her the importance of setting your affairs in order. "I've always had a will of my own since I was in my early twenties, and regularly update it, depending on my situation, such as having another child," she says.

Over the years, friends and acquaintances from Lithuania, Argentina, and Russia have come to live in the UK, and she has encouraged them to get their wills in place, especially if they have young children. "If a child is born in the UK to foreign parents, it's imperative that the family abroad is able to claim a British-born child without interference from the state."

On two occasions, Ms Bennett has held "will parties". She invited four couples to dinner at her home, who took it in turns to see a solicitor in another room. They all met again a month later, to witness each other's will.

The idea has been so successful that all her friends now have wills in place. "I would encourage anyone, young or old, who has assets or items they would like a particular person to have to write a will - and if they are parents, they should be badgered into doing one."

As a counselling psychologist, Ms Bennett is also aware of how having an up-to-date will prevents arguments over money between relatives of the deceased: "All too often I hear this in my therapy room, from the bereaved.

"We may not have much control over when we die, but I believe that we can, and should, have some control over what happens to whom and what we leave behind afterwards."

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