Last will and testament.exe

My wife and I are at the lawyers, going through our will and I realise how my IT training helps me frame problems. It’s the IF THEN ELSE approach.



My wife and I are at the lawyers, going through our will. The previous lawyer had made a number of mistakes, and then promptly left the firm, so it is up to the principal to fix our issues. The Maserati in his carport tells me this guy is either good at his job or good at charging.


So we go through this list of scenarios, some of which need to be changed, some deleted and some simply moved around in the document to make it easier to understand.


I notice that the lawyer renumbers each paragraph as he moves sequentially along, sometimes having to change the number again as he works his edits into the document. I think this is a very disciplined approach and must have been part of his lawyer training.


However, my wife and I have a large number of additions to make, to cover different situations. The lawyer is surprised we could generate so many additions, but we are allowing for situations he has not considered. It is only afterwards I realise what has happened.


Just as the lawyer relied on his training to move through the document and make edits, I relied on my IT training, which made me approach the document in a totally different way. It wasn’t a computer problem, a software engineering approach made sense. I used a basic programming construction, which probably now has a fancy name, but I call it the IF THEN ELSE decision. Virtually all programming languages have a version.


This construction is used in the following way:


IF condition exists (Say my wife is already dead when I die)
THEN carry out an action (Give everything to the kids)
ELSE carry out an alternative action (Give everything to the wife)


Now the lovely thing about this construction is that one IF THEN ELSE decision can be nested inside another. Programmers then indent the bits of text to make it easier to read. For instance:


IF my wife is already dead when I die
   IF my children are all over 18
     THEN give everything to the kids
        ELSE give everything to my executor
ELSE Give everything to the wife


What a wonderful thing, software engineering converges into drafting my will. Software constructions can jump straight out of the computer and help me better order thoughts to get a logical outcome. Technical training can benefit the non-technical person.


Now I just have to figure out how to make a DO WHILE loop get me a Maserati.


To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.


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