Bishop & Sewell

As we approach the peak summer holiday weeks the newspapers, bored with telling us how hot it is, or how high inflation is, reach out for what is known as ‘silly season’ stories, writes Nicholas Barlow, Partner and Head of our Private Client team.

One such silly story recently passed my desk which relates – unusually – to the usually quite dry subject of wills. More of which, in a moment.

Another useful source of reliable information is worth noting, too. Coutts & Co have begun a  new series of articles, in which they take a look at the best way to protect your and your family’s future. From wills to inheritance tax to incapacity planning, there’s a lot to consider.

As they report, “If you haven’t thought about estate planning, you’re not the only one. According to a 2020 survey by Canada Life, 59 per cent of UK adults don’t have a will in place. However, understandably, for many the Covid pandemic appears to have pushed succession planning up their list of priorities.

“Knight Frank’s 2021 Wealth Report found that 28 per cent of high net worth individuals now cite the transfer of wealth as one of their top three concerns. 

“With the next couple of decades set for the biggest transfer of wealth in history, as Baby Boomers pass down their assets, having the right structure in place is increasingly important.

“It’s important to remember, for example, things like the inheritance tax seven-year rule. If you give someone a financial ‘gift’ outright, it might not be subject to inheritance tax if you don’t pass away within seven years of making it.”

Coutts quite correctly observe that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to estate planning. It’s about determining how you want to best manage your wealth during your life, and after you’re gone.

I promised a ‘silly season’ finale, and here it is. The Lancashire Telegraph reports the 10 strangest things left by people in their wills:

  1. One man left his prostate to a giraffe
  2. A lady left a trust fund of £100,000 to her pet goldfish
  3. One man’s last wish was to have his ashes fired out of a gun
  4. A manure spreader was left by a father for his son (who also disinherited him)
  5. A pair of Christmas socks
  6. One grandmother left a single penny and a list of “nasty comments” for each family member
  7. A Toblerone
  8. A kidney stone
  9. Napoleon famously documented he wanted his head to be shaved upon his death and for his hair to be shared amongst his family
  10. The inventor of Pringles cans used his will to document he wanted to be cremated and his ashes to be packed in a Pringles can and buried!

Enjoy August!

Contact our Private Client Team

If you are affected by similar issues or would like to have a related discussion in confidence, please call Nicholas Barlow Partner and Head of the Private Client team on quoting Ref CB341 on 020 7692 7561 or email  

The above is accurate as at 22 August 2022. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Category: Blog | Date: 22nd Aug 2022

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