The last Will and Testament of Chip Maplewood.

Written by: Loneheart

Chip frowned and put down his pen. He surveyed what he had written with an uncertain eye. He was certain he had forgotten something, but it would have to do. Now he only needed a witness and his last will and testament would be a binding legal document.

Monty entered the tree house carrying the ruins of a picnic hamper and was closely followed by Zipper, Gadget and Dale.

"That was a great picnic." Said Gadget. "You should have come with us Chip!"

"Yeah," agreed Dale, "What's important enough to keep you indoors and miss all this great sunshine?"

"Uh," Chip looked abashed, "actually I've been writing my will and now I just need someone to witness it."

"Jeepers!" Gadget explained. "You aren't dying are you, Chip?"

"No, I'm fine for now. But everyone should have a will to make things easier for the people they leave behind, in case something unexpected happens." Chip felt guilty for raising the spectre of death when the sun was shining so brightly outside.

Writing a will was an occasion that called for a dark night and a thunderstorm, something Dale was quick to point out. "You must be crazy sitting in a stuffy study and planning to die when you should be having a fun in the sunshine while you can!"

"Dale's got a point, Chip-me-lad." Monty agreed. "You only live once."

Chip looked sheepish, but rallied quickly. "Dale, you don't have a will, right?"

"No." Snorted the loudly dressed chipmunk.

"Don't you know that means the government gets your comic books when you die?" smiled the detective. It wasn't strictly true but any money Dale had, or that resulted from his estate being auctioned off after his death, might well go to the government if he died without a will and no relatives claimed it within a certain number of years.

"What?" Dale looked horror struck. "The government wouldn't know what to do with them! They might even send them for paper recycling!"

"I suppose Chip has a point. We do dangerous work and we ought to be prepared for the worst." Gadget mused. "When Dad disappeared I was left with an awful mess. Without a body I can't prove he's dead, so I have to wait seven years until I can claim any of his money or property. I had to use my own money to settle his outstanding debts with all the door-to-door salesmen he couldn't say no to, or be faced with debt collectors. Legally I don't even own the old aeroplane where you found me."

"Come to think about it, I probably should have made a will years ago…" mused Monty. "Not as if I'm getting any younger."

Zipper pretended to sniff Monty for signs of decay and the made an expression of mock disgust. "Ah-phooey!" he buzzed and indicated that Monty was good for years yet.

"There were several other blank forms included in the kit I sent away for. You guys can use those if you want. They're in your study. I'm just going to nip across the park to see if Tammy's mom will sign as a witness for me. I'd ask one of you to do it but since you're all named as beneficiaries I'm not sure it would be legal." Chip explained on his way out the door.

"Zowie! What did you leave me Chip? Is it something nice?" Dale's tail was wagging like a propeller.

"Getoutta here and write your own will, ya bum!" Chip laughed at him. "You think I want you looking forward to me dying the way you look forward to Christmas?"

"Don't you need a lawyer to write a will?" Monty worried after Chip had gone.

"Sure, and it's not as expensive as you might think. You can also have a lawyer just check over a will you've written yourself, too." Gadget said. "But if you use a Write-your-own-will kit, like the one in Chip has in his study, it will probably come with instructions. If there's anything else we need to know, we can just run a web search."

"Are the laws about wills different over here from Australia?" Monty asked.

"Yes, each country has it's own probate laws and in the US the laws vary between states so you have to check your will is still legal every time you move." Gadget replied.

"Gadget, you seem to know a lot about wills." Dale said seriously.

"I had to find out about it when I realised that Dad wasn't coming back." Gadget replied softly.

"Do you think you could answer a question for me, since you're so smart and you know all about wills and stuff?" Dale asked shyly.

"I'll try to, Dale. What is it?" Gadget said kindly.

"What do you think Chip left me? Do you think it's something Really COOL?"

And now here are a few questions from me to all you Acorn Café members out there:

1) Have you made YOUR will?
2) Recently?
3) Do people know where it IS, or are they going to have to call in a Medium?
4) How big a tangle would settling your affairs be for your relatives if you fell under a bus tomorrow?
5) What do you think that Chip left Dale?
6) Do you think it was something REALLY COOL?
7) What would each of the Ranger's leave to the others in their will?
8) I'm not really expecting you to tell me the answer to questions 1 – 4

(Maintainers note: Please post your answers on Lonehearts forum section.)

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