Legal Widow

Like the cobblers whose children go unshod, lawyers are shocking at keeping their own affairs in order. You can guarantee that the personal injury specialists will forget their MOT, nixing their insurance, and every IT lawyer I know runs pirate software because they think the real thing’s too expensive.

All this helps explain why neither the Lawyer nor I have made a will. Of course, not having had a proper job for years, I’ve got nothing to leave, but there’s no excuse for the Lawyer. He’s currently putting his affairs in order and spent three hours looking for a will before realising he’d never made one.

Off he went to see a high street solicitor, prepared to be magnanimous, and averting his eyes from the woodchip wallpaper. The high street chap, far from doffing his cap and mumbling in awe at the sharp-suited commercial lawyer in front of him, smartly upbraided him for being such an idiot and presented him with a series of difficult questions.

The Lawyer came home fretting over the possibility that we could both be taken off in a terrible accident. Just who do we ask to be our executor? Who should look after the children?

We ran through our siblings and all the godparents, even the ones who never remember the birthdays and the ones we’re not speaking to, and realised no one would want to volunteer for the job.

“Still, we’re worth quite a bit,” said the Lawyer. “Anyone taking on the kids in the event of our death gets about a million to go with them. That’s worth a punt, wouldn’t you say?”

“My sister wouldn’t do it for less than two million,” I said.

“I could up the premiums a bit. You know, we could auction it off,” said the Lawyer. “Anyone interested in being a guardian gets a say in the lump sum upfront – obviously, we’d have to put some in trust for the kids themselves, not too much – and we’d have a sealed bid session. What do you think?”

We became aware of a ghastly silence at the dinner table, where the kids were staring at us.

“We’re not goods to be raffled off,” said Subjudice haughtily.

“Not a raffle dear, that’s illegal,” said the Lawyer. “Now, an auction on the other hand…” The children were outraged.

“But why?” asked the Lawyer. “It’s merely being honest about human transactions. Putting a value on things we’re too squeamish to spell out. In any case, I’m worth more dead than alive, but do you see me crying about it? No! I’m just glad I can buy you a good second home once I’m gone.”

The children were aghast at such levity on a serious subject. (Children are so serious about death. As if they need to worry.)

Actually, they’ve all gone a bit giddy at the firm since the bill for the summer partners’ ball was leaked, and it turns out the board spent half a million on things such as chocolate fountains, marquees and one-hit bands from the 60s, all in the name of networking. The lawyers are skipping down the corridors, showering handfuls of cash in the air whenever an equity partner passes by.

“Take that ball,” said the Lawyer. “Half a million down the drain. Now, if they’d merely split it up into £30K bundles and delivered them in brown envelopes to the MDs of all our best potential clients, just think how much better off we’d be. They’ll never do it, of course. There’s no one cushioned from nasty financial truths like an equity partner.”