Life, death and George Osborne with the Bury St Edmunds Chamber

Nigel George talks to the Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce First Friday Club

Bury St Edmunds Chamber website:

Every year since I’ve been a member of the Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce, they have been kind enough to invite me along to speak to the First Friday Club. They are a lovely bunch of people and I always enjoy talking to them. It’s also a great opportunity to network and make new contacts.

I set out below an extract from the notes I produced for my talk

Legal and Tax

Knowledge and approval 
To make a valid will, a testator must not only have testamentary capacity but also knowledge and approval of the contents. To satisfy the latter there must be no suggestion the testator didn’t fully comprehend the contents of the will – Hawes v Burgess 2013

Military wills 
Do not need to be in writing. They apply when a serviceman is on active service. This includes those service men (and women) waiting to be deployed.

Inheritance Tax (‘IHT’)
The benefits of being married. Couples who are married, or in a civil partnership can pass assets between them free of IHT. They can also inherit their deceased partners Nil Rate Band (‘NRB’) currently £325,000. This means the survivor can leave a tax free estate of £650,000. So a jointly owned house passes to the survivor tax free. Cohabiters have no such benefit.

Example A and B are not married. They own a house worth £800,000. A dies leaving the house to B. Even with the benefit of the NRB, B has a tax bill of £30,000 and possibly more if A had other assets (£800,000/2 = £400,000 – £325,000 = £75,000 x 40% = £30,000.)


A will is not sacrosanct 
Joint ownership, election, trusts, post death variation, mutuality, domicile, The Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act can all have a significant affect on validity

Life, death and dementia
Life doesn’t stop just because your dying, or suffering from dementia. People have the same feelings and emotions as they had before. Don’t treat them as if they are ‘made of glass’ Whether we are living or dying we still need:

All of us have a need to communicate. It’s a basic requirement from birth. Lack of communication causes people to withdraw and feel isolated.

Laughter and tears 
The ability and opportunity to do both shouldn’t stop.

We all need to be heard, never more so than when we are old, in poor health, or in distress. It’s important to give people time and space to talk and to do our utmost to try and understand what they are saying.

While you may not be able to choose whether you live or die, we can all choose how we die and how we live.


Broken mind/Broken leg
While we are happy to discuss a broken leg, many of us will head for the door rather than discuss a broken mind



    1. Early diagnosis is critical.
    2. We are all individuals and will react to it in different ways.
    3. There are practical steps you can take to mitigate the problems.
    4. There is a lot of help out there.
    5. You should always talk to and not over a person with Dementia.
    6. Involve your whole family. They can all help in different ways
    7. Keep your mind and body active and you will go a long way to slowing it down and preventing it

“We are a large bunch of cells which duplicate and reproduce themselves endlessly until we reach sexual maturity. At that stage our DNA loses interest” – The Infinite Monkey Cage BBC Radio 4

It’s a language thing 
We don’t talk about death because we don’t have the language. We all want a good death but if we never discuss it how can we ensure it happens?

We can’t avoid death. By acknowledging that fact, being willing to talk, listen, laugh and make decisions we can all make it a lot more bearable.

The Death Cafe – 
Over 100 people have come to Death Cafe’s in Bury St Edmunds. They create a warm, positive environment in which people can share their thoughts on life and death over tea and cake. They can help equip us all with the language we need when faced with the death of a loved one. They are not for profit and have no agenda.