Where There’s a Will – There’s Relations. Those words appeared some years ago in the window of an undertaker’s shop in Cheshire. One way to make life difficult for others when you die is failing to make a will. It is bad enough when someone uses their will deliberately to distress those who might have benefited from it; but that is nothing to the distress caused by dying intestate.
‘But I have so little it’s not worth worrying about,’ some people protest. By God, it is! Items of little intrinsic value often carry the most sentimental significance for the bereaved. It only needs two or more conflicting claims to such significance to start a full-scale subjective contretemps. Who can judge between the relative merits to Aunt Ethel’s necklace going to the great nephew who cut his teeth on it, rather than the daughter-in law who gave it her?
‘Sweet is a legacy – and passing sweet the unexpected death of some old lady,’ wrote Byron. Not always. Property and possessions, however small, carry with them an emotive value which is incalculable.
Christians ought to be concerned about their worldly goods. Scripture, not least Jesus’ parables, indicates that paying insufficient heed to the stewardship of our worldly goods, however few these may be – remember those talents – is as reprehensible as allowing our wealth to come between us and God who provided it. Failing to put to good use what we have may be worse than extravagance.
This particularly applies to money held on behalf of others. Some treasurers are notorious for their unreadiness to disburse their church’s money. They develop a peculiar possessiveness towards something which is not their own. Bills are left unpaid. Creditors, as a result, have a cash-flow crisis. PCCs are faced with the threat of legal action – none of which reflects well upon the church.
One such aged treasurer of my acquaintance was so reluctant to spend any of the church’s money that every time the vicar remonstrated with him, the treasurer reminded him that he was leaving a large sum of money to the church in his will. In fact he died intestate, without ever making a will at all.