Can't take it with you? Put it on the Net

Today I am going to tell you how to make a will (writes Simon Goforth, our legal expert). Did you know that over 50 per cent of British citizens die before they have made a will? No, I didn't know that either, but I got it from a Law Society pamphlet called The Will To Die, so I expect it's true. What it means is that if you die without having made a will, your estate will be disputed by all your relatives and the taxman, and it will go to litigation and most of the proceeds will be picked up by lawyers in nice fat fees, and that's why the Law Society is really anxious that you should die without making a will...!

Hello there! (writes Beatrice Withypool, our arts and crafts correspondent). I hear you want to make a will for yourself! Jolly good for you, I say! There are all sorts of ready-made wills on the market these days, but if you do make your own, you can guarantee getting the colour and the material you want, and a lot of satisfaction at the same time. Blue, red, yellow - any colour will do, but the most important thing is to make it extremely hard-wearing. A will is one of those things you make long years before you're actually going to need it, so it's terribly important that it's going to last and won't fade or fray. Have you thought about a country-style fabric such as Harris tweed? Not exactly trendy, of course, but it will never go out of fashion...!

Fashion is the last thing we normally think of when making a will (writes our trend-spotting man about town Justin Camembert), but remember that the charity we favour in our will has got to have street cred when we die. If you leave a bequest to Greenpeace when you write your will now, you're going to look pretty stupid if you die in 20 years' time and eco-causes have gone right out of fashion. Or what if you leave money to research into a disease which has been cured by the time you die? Your dependents are going to feel pretty cheesed off if you've left all your money to get cancer cleared up, and it's already been cleared up by the time you kick the bucket, aren't they? So you owe it to them to check your favoured charity at regular intervals and make sure that it's still performing...

Performing is not a word that immediately comes to mind when we make a will (comments our cabaret critic, Lee Fruhstuck), but more and more people are seeing the sense of having their will re-enacted after their death by a professionally trained performance artist. Traditionally a will is read out by a solicitor in the presence of the grieving yet avaricious relatives. Now, whatever a solicitor is trained for, it is not for live dramatic readings. A solicitor's will-reading is a dull, dull affair. Far better to get an actor to do it. But once you see the point of getting your will performed, it makes even more sense to have it scripted in advance in collaboration with a writer or a comedian - and why not? A will with jokes, and plot, and character interplay - this is the will of the future!

The will of the future (writes our internerd correspondent, Joshua Watkins) will surely be an on-line will, and I confidently predict that e-bequests are here to stay. If you want to set up your own will-site on the internet, it can very easily be done, and of course the great thing about an e-will is that it is interactive - people can drop into your site to suggest interesting people to leave your money to, and to have dialogue with you about the best ways of investing your hard-earned cash. The question you may want to ask is: can hackers get into my will and download money from me? And the answer is, Yes, they can but, hey! That's what the Net is all about - interactive fun!

Fun is all very well (writes the shadow Archbishop of Canterbury, the Left Reverend Philip Toogood) but death can be a solemn moment in its own way, and when we shake off this mortal coil...

A coil can be all too mortal (writes our funeral motoring correspondent, Fergal Black) and the last thing we want to happen to a funeral hearse is that the coil goes, or the plugs seize up, just when we're halfway to the graveyard...

Coming soon: How to make your own stocks and shares!

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