“I, Reginald Aloysius Witherset the Fourth, being of sound mind and body, blah, blah, blah. You know all the legal mumbo-jumbo.” Reginald gave Norman, his attorney, an impatient stare.

“Yes, Reginald, I do. Unless you want something in the preamble of your Last Will & Testament to change, it will match the last eleven wills I have drawn up for you. Do you want to skip ahead to the part where you tell me who gets what?”

“Fine. I have nothing to change in the main preamble. Just the assignment of inheritance.”

Norman flipped to the assignment of assets in Reginald’s current will. “Half your estate goes to Nancy if she survives you, to her Harrison Foundation if she predeceases.  The other half is to be distributed equally among your four ex-wives and your four children, less certain items you specified to go to each inheritor. Should I remind you what you left for each of them?”

“Oh come on, Norman. We started out with me being in sound mind and body. Of course I don’t need any reminders. And as usual, being not only sound in mind but prudent in business, I will ask you to read them to me anyway. One never knows if there is a mistake in the current will unless one checks.”

Or if one has forgotten,” thought Norman. “You are absolutely correct, Reginald. As prudent men of business, we must take all precautions. Would you rather look them over, or should I read them to you?”

“I’m listening, Norman. Go ahead and read me a bedtime story.”

“Last Will & Testament of Reginald Witherset IV, Addendum one: specific bequests. To Marsha, my first wife, I bequeath all my Bibles and religious books, and the religious retreat Il Rifugio. To Sheila, my second wife, I bequeath all my tennis equipment, tennis books, and The Backspin Bar. To Karen, my third wife, I bequeath all the quilts, afghans, and scarves my mother made, and the Seams Less retail chain. To Judy, my fourth wife, I bequeath my collection of vinyl records, the Girard turntable, and Chord Y’all Studio. Does that still sound good to you so far?”

“Of course it doesn’t sound good to me. They’re my ex-wives. And if they inherit, that means I’m dead.”

“Let me rephrase. Do you still wish those specific assets bequeathed to those specific women, in addition to their share of your remaining estate?”

“Fine, fine. It’s the next part where we’re going to make some changes. Go ahead.”

“To Marsha’s daughter Melissa, I leave the house on the Cape and all of its furnishings.”

“Puh-lease, Norman. I’m not senile. I know which child was borne by which wife. Just the children’s names will suffice.”

“I’m simply reading what is in your will. The wording you required. But as you wish Reginald, I will simply give you a name and bequest. Katrina - golf cart, clubs, books on golf, and the Country Club. Julie - ArkTech and all of your computers and computer stock. Newberry - The Book Haven, Book Reports magazine, and all the rest of your books.”

“You left out Samantha.”

“That’s because you told me you were going to change her portion of the inheritance. Are you asking me to tell you what she gets now?”

“You don’t need to tell me what she gets from the current will. I want her cut out of the new will entirely. She gets nothing.”

“Not even her portion of the money and estate divided among the other children?”

“Nothing. She gets nothing. Not after what she pulled.”

“Think this through, Reginald. There’s a good chance she’ll contest the will if you cut her out. And that could tie up the inheritance for the rest of them. Is that what you want? What did she do that was so bad, anyway?”

“It’s more what she didn’t do, Norman. She named her first-born son Norman.”

“And what’s so wrong with naming a boy Norman, might I ask?”

“It is a long-standing tradition in the Witherset family to name the first-born son Reginald, with a number appended.”

“Because Samantha named her boy Norman instead of Reginald the Fifth, you want her cut our of your will entirely?”

“I do. Nobody spites me and gets away with it. Not without consequences, at any rate.”

“These are dire consequences, Reginald, dire indeed. Did I mention that a contested will could hold up the inheritance for everyone else? You could be allowing Samantha’s decision to lead you to spite your entire family, so to speak.”

“Not my problem, Norman. I’ll be dead.”

“When I cut Samantha out of the will, how should I dispose of her bequests? A share of the estate, the villa in Spain, and your football team, the Seattle Seahawks?”

“The remainder of the estate shall still be divided between my wife, my ex-wives, and the rest of my children. They’ll each simply get more, while she gets nothing. The villa in Spain can go to Nancy unless she dies before me. If I survive her, give it to Reginald the Fifth. And believe me, if there’s no Reginald the Fifth, I’ll be back. And the Seahawks can go to George.”

“I need to be specific in your will, Reginald. Which George to you mean?”

“Whom do you think I mean, Norman?”

“Well, there’s your butler, George Kransten. And there’s George Mattson, your good friend at the club.”

“Mattson thinks football means soccer, Norman. Giving him the Seahawks would spell disaster. No, I mean my butler, George Kransten.”

“It is my duty as your counselor to advise you, Reginald, this will be yet another red flag to your heirs. Yet another reason the will may be contested.”

“Dead, Norman, I’ll be dead. That will be your concern, not mine.”

“May I make a suggestion, my friend?”

“As long as it concerns where to have lunch, be my guest. If it’s about these changes to my will, I look forward to a call from your secretary when they have been made.”

“Reginald, I know Samantha. I know all your family members.”

“Yes, Norman, you do. Is there a point here?”

“I don’t believe for one minute that Samantha was trying to spite you. I think she chose the name she felt appropriate for her son, which is perfectly within her right. Probably a name she liked and one she thought the boy could live with.”

“What are you implying, Norman? I have lived quite well and comfortably with my name. Proudly too, I might add.”

“Did she even know about the family tradition?”

“Of course she knew about it, Norman. I personally brief every woman who may become the mother of the next Reginald about our tradition. Not to mention telling them how to be a Witherset properly.”

“It sounds like your mind is made up, Reginald. Paula will call you tomorrow, after the new will has been drawn up and is ready for your signature.”

“That will be fine, Norman. Now, where shall we dine?”

September 03, 2020 21:39

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