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."