Syd Stone looked across at the vultures sitting around the boardroom table.
Joanna was right, she didn’t know any of them.
The funeral had taken some arranging, but it had gone off without a hitch, the Book of Condolence duly signed by all attendees as requested during the service.
Now, some four weeks later, the Will was about to be read and Joanna’s family had come out of the woodwork for a share.
With both parents dead, Joanna as the eldest had inherited the ailing family business.
Her brothers and sisters had wanted it sold and a cut of the proceeds, but Joanna had instead given them shares to do with as they wished and within five years had turned it around.
However, her siblings had sold them as soon as the twelve month stipulation clause had passed, little knowing that it was Joanna herself who had bought them when they came on the market, thus making her the sole shareholder.
They had shown no interest or had any contact with her at all since.
Syd stood, and having gained their attention, said
“Shall we begin?”
before resuming her seat.
The bored looks spoke volumes as the usual bequests to staff and friends were disclosed. It equated to several tens of thousands of pounds.
“And now for my family…………..”.
Interest sparked in the glinting eyes of the greedy, and they sat, hands demurely clasped in front of them, eager to accept their due.
Syd paused and reached for her glass.
“To my family, “ she continued “I bequeath the cost of their attendance to my funeral”.
The scraping of chairs and shouting match that followed would actually have had Joanna laughing her socks off. Syd was bemused at how well her client had anticipated their reaction.
“We’ll contest it!” they cried in unison.
“She can’t do that. We’re family!”
“That can’t be right. We’re entitled, it was the family business, We were shareholders.”
“Exactly,” Syd replied calmly “Were. You no longer have a say or stake in the company which has already been sold and the proceeds given to the Cancer Charity as per Joanna’s instructions.”
“It’s not legal!” boomed Dennis. “ I want to see a lawyer!”
“It’s very legal… Dennis, is it? It was drawn up by a judge who happened to be a personal friend of your sister’s, then witnessed and notarized by the best lawyers. It’s airtight.”
One by one they slumped back into their seats.
“I have cheques here for all of you to cover your expenses the day of the funeral, calculated from the address details of your entries in the Book of Condolence. I think you’ll find them quite generous as they include travel, overnight accommodation and meals. Joanna didn’t want any of you to be out of pocket for being inconvenienced.”
Blinded by anger, they filed out amid statements of ‘The Bitch!’ and ‘How dare she!’
Syd sat back in her swivel chair knowing the cheques would be cashed within hours and smiled at the picture of her benefactor.
It was Joanna who had supported her in the beginning of her career some fifteen years before and helped set her up in legal practice. They had become close friends.
Joanna had come to her for legal advice of her plans when the cancer had returned and she only had a few months to live.
The Will was indeed extremely legal.
Syd’s Dad was a judge, and her brothers lawyers, however, not the judge or legal team that had drawn up the document. That would’ve been too easy to overturn as a conflict of interest. Joanna, bless her, had anticipated that too.
Syd raised her glass in a sad but respectful toast.