Book review of Your Last Gift – Getting your affairs in order
Matthew Hutton is well known to private client practitioners, having been one himself. He specialised in tax and was an author and lecturer before ‘retiring’ to become a vicar in the Church of England. It was whilst providing pastoral support to people facing death and to their relatives after death that he came up with the idea for this book. It aims to provide concise guidance to help people die organised.
There are six Chapters to the book:
- Your preparation – for the inevitable
- Some practicalities – your Will and any letters of wishes
- The people – who matter to you
- Your possessions – and how to access them
- Your plans for the future – thinking them through
- Post-script – what happens afterwards
In typical Matthew Hutton style, there is an accompanying website where any significant developments in the law or practice will be posted – www.yourlastgiftbook.com
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The meat of the book is contained in Appendices which provide a series of checklists and some resources.
Structure & Layout
Each chapter contains a number of sub-headings, illustrative cartoons and suitable quotations. Where appropriate, it refers to other resources and of course, the checklists contained in the Appendices. There are also practical examples to help with, for example, the preparation of a Will.
The book is a tool to aid leaving one’s affairs in a tidy fashion with all relevant information stored in an accessible way for those who are left behind. It focuses on the key aspects of end-of-life planning with a view to freeing up the mind to live one’s life to the full in the knowledge that everything is in place to ease the burden on those left behind.
Clarity & readability
The book is written with wit and style. It is not a book that has to be read at one sitting but easily could be since it is only 100 or so pages long. It, therefore, achieves its objective of providing a handy tool to encourage action rather than a sombre legal tome destined to sit on the bookshelf unread.
Relevance to practitioners
You may wonder about this book’s usefulness to practitioners given the legal detail you will all know, but as a book to recommend to one’s clients, it is second to none. Just as law firms provide checklists or questionnaires to some clients to complete before giving instructions to make a Will, this book takes that idea further and provides sufficient background information for a client to really discuss and reflect on what they would like to do before asking their lawyer to prepare the necessary documents.
If every client completed the checklists in this book the work of the probate practitioner would be made so much easier. This is especially relevant as we increasingly struggle to locate and value digital assets.
It is a useful book for the bereaved too with the postscript providing an overview of addressing the impact of grief and setting out how to embark on the probate process.
All in all, I would recommend to practitioners that they encourage clients to purchase the book, which is reasonably priced at £9.99 for the e-book edition, which provides access to the electronic files of the book’s Appendices so that they can complete the lists and create their own records as appropriate.
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