Making a will means different things to different people in different countries. In the UK, there is still a huge rich/poor divide. At the lower end of the income scale people very rarely concern themselves with making a will, although it is important for everyone to consider. Even if you have no worldly goods to leave, there will still be things to consider such as the care of minors and funeral arrangements. For the rich, there is this constant struggle to help their bequeathed avoid inheritance tax and all the red tape that goes with it. They have many more assets in the way of land, property and business to distribute and this means that making a will can be a lengthy process.
Other countries have their own traditions and some concern themselves with very different things to what we are used to when thinking about what happens to our worldly goods after we've gone. Who owns your cow after you've died may seem a relatively minor worry but these types of things are sometimes a poor persons only source of income and the only thing they have left to put in a will.
The world's oldest parents were in the news recently for their efforts in securing an heir. The Indian pensioners, in their seventies with a twin boy and girl recently conceived through IVF, are ecstatic that they now have a son to take over their land when they die. This brings on all sorts of questions. They had a small farm and a few buildings. They had three grown daughters who, under Indian law, could not inherit from them and this is why they decided to embark on the controversial medical treatment in their quest for a son and heir.
They got their son and were disappointed to find they also now have another girl to keep. Female lives do not have the same importance attached as male offspring. But to what cost did the couple get the desired heir. They had to sell off most of their assets to raise the funds for the IVF treatment. This has only left them with a small piece of land to pass on to the boy. The other daughters will raise these two children when the parents die and eventually the son will take over the parents home with a wife and family of his own. He will also inherit the extortionate mortgage on it.
So what was the point in having a son when there is nothing worthwhile to leave him? Villages such as this have very strong ideas on tradition and the way things should be. The elderly man was coming under a great deal of ridicule for not having produced a son. This gossip has now been silenced by the birth of the boy child. It would seem children are as much a commodity as the land itself.
Some countries put so much store in making a will that it is considered a dis-honour to them if they neglect these responsibilities. This also used to be the case in the Western world but is not so strong today. Making a will is still an essential piece of administration for everyone and is a good show that you take your responsibilities seriously. It eases possibly family worries right at the time when they don't need to be worrying about them. It makes your wishes clear and, in the main, will avoid any family disagreements or feuds that could erupt.
Whatever your culture or wealth, writing a will is always advisable and this can be done quite simply but is always worth good legal advice on.
Legal expert Catherine Harvey looks at what people hold important when it comes to making a will and how this can differ country to country.