Going back to my roots: dead end this line terminates here
My 40th birthday has caused me to pause and ponder my mortality a little. All that research into my family tree has been fascinating, but it's also served to remind me that I am the end of the line. My brother may have done enough to ensure that the family genes and surname will head onwards into future generations, but it won't be happening through me. My genes have reached a biological cul-de-sac and they're going nowhere. My name won't be appearing in anybody else's family tree as a direct ancestor, merely as a short stubby side branch. When I'm gone (hopefully in the far distant future) all that will remain will be my influences, other people's memories and a few choice artefacts. But that's good enough for me.
So this week I have finally been nudged into sorting out a will. It's taken me long enough, and it's taken a lot of nudging, but I have at last got around to considering what will happen to my assets when I've gone. It's a problem that's all too easy to ignore because it isn't a problem until you die, and then you're not the one that has to mop up the mess. But it's a problem that's easily solved, so I've discovered. And making a will has got to be better than leaving your relatives to hang around waiting for some lawyer to apply the country's intestacy laws.
The country's intestacy laws (wildly simplified): 1) Married with kids? Money goes to spouse and kids. 2) Married without kids? Money goes to spouse, but maybe some of it to parents, or brothers and sisters, or nephews and nieces. 3) Unmarried? Keep working down the following list until you find somebody alive to give the money to: kids, parents, brothers and sisters (or nephews and nieces), grandparents, uncles and aunts (or cousins), the Crown.
One of the duties of the trustees named in my will (hello to both of you) will be to dispose of all my worldly goods. That's not just any property I may own at the time of my death, but also all the crap I have stashed away around my house. All my CDs and books and gadgets and clothes should be quite easy to deal with, but I wonder what they'll do with all the boxes that are clogging up my spare room. I own loads of stuff that I wouldn't dream of throwing out because it means something to me, but that I can't imagine anybody else would want to keep after I'm gone. What will become of my cuddly womble, or my Top Trumps cards, or all those recorded-off-the-radio cassettes, or my geography exercise books, or that 1972 London bus map, or the notes to my best man's speech, or many hundreds of other items of useless ephemera? Probably best that I'm not around to find out.
But I do hope that whoever sorts out my affairs will search carefully before they bin everything. I'd hate them to miss my grandmother's teenage autograph book, or the announcement of my father's christening in the local church magazine, or my tiny maternity ward wristband, or the Coronation edition Radio Times, or my complete set of 10 Red Nose Day red noses, amongst several other hidden treasures. Do please have a thorough rummage before you chuck the lot, won't you? Just, er, don't look in the third box down on the right, because that one's probably best burnt <cough> unopened.