The Christmas production at The Dukes this year is Cinderella and it’s a belter.
A witty and sometimes surprising take on the classic tale, pitching no a nonsense Northern Lass (Cinder-Ella) living in splendid isolation on a farm with her beloved animals and widower dad against some outlandish step-sisters from Essex and their vile gold digging mum.
Watching the show though I couldn’t help having my lawyer’s head on.
You see wicked” ‘step mother’s may be a staple of pantomime, but they are also make regular appearances in the law courts.
Many a dispute after someone has died is about how their estate is divided up and has as it’s dramatis personae the second wife and children of the first marriage.
And I should add that it’s very often not the step-mother who is wicked; it can just as easily be the children.
However, with planning - and dare I say professional legal advice - it would be possible to keep all parties happy in such a situation.
Trusts are a way of sharing property between a named class of beneficiaries.
A simple example being leaving a house to the wife for her life and then to the children on her death.
Another thread in the story of Cinderella at The Dukes is Ella’s dad being a farmer and the step mother from Essex being after his farm in order to sell and run off with the cash.
It’s very clear she has him for the farm, rather than for love.
But again I thought a ‘Pre-nup’ – which are now recognised by the courts - would have soon sorted that issue out and left Ella and her dad with some protection from the grasping step-mum.
But I suppose it would have been a dull Christmas show if a lawyer had come in a waved a magic wand and sprinkled wills, trusts and pre- nups on all the characters.
A lawyer would have certainly stifled the drama.
Or then again is it drama that creates the lawyers in the first place?