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Sedgwick man repurposes CVS receipt to write his will

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After receiving an 18.5 foot receipt from a CVS drug store in Augusta, Walter McCormick, 48, of Sedgwick partnered with his attorney to use it to write his last will and testament. "I bought three items and they gave me a receipt as long as my GMC Sierra 350," McCormick tells The Maine Edge. "Instead of throwing it away, I decided to use it to prove a point about waste." After receiving an 18.5 foot receipt from a CVS drug store in Augusta, Walter McCormick, 48, of Sedgwick partnered with his attorney to use it to write his last will and testament. "I bought three items and they gave me a receipt as long as my GMC Sierra 350," McCormick tells The Maine Edge. "Instead of throwing it away, I decided to use it to prove a point about waste."

SEDGWICK – Walter McCormick, 48, of Sedgwick, says a stop at a CVS pharmacy in Augusta in late January inspired him to finally put his affairs in order after the young clerk handed him a receipt of more than 18 feet in length.

“I thought the guy was joking around at first,” McCormick told me during a phone interview. “I bought three items and he gave me a receipt longer than my GMC Sierra 350. Most of it was coupons and ads for other products. I took a picture of it at the store with my phone and emailed it to my wife. She put it on Facebook and asked for suggestions on what we could do with it.”

A variety of possibilities for the receipt were suggested by the McCormick’s friends. A friend in Ellsworth suggested using it to wallpaper the couple’s bedroom. Another friend in Stonington suggested using it for reading material in the bathroom.

A friend in Southwest Harbor, who also happens to be the couple’s attorney, suggested an altogether different purpose.

“My lawyer has been after me for years to formally write my last will and testament,” McCormick said. “I’ve avoided it because it’s something I don’t like to think about, but you never know when it’s your time to go.”

“I was half-joking when I suggested it on Facebook, but I now realize that it was a pretty good idea,” said McCormick’s attorney Brad Buck. “So much paper is wasted with ridiculously long receipts that most people throw away. Consider this our little message to corporate America about the importance of recycling. If everyone found a creative use for those receipts, the world would be better off.”

Lest anyone suggest that a last will and testament written on a drugstore receipt might not hold up in a court of law, Buck cites a fascinating but tragic instance dating back to 1948.

“The ‘tractor fender will’ is a famous example of someone’s will being written on something non-traditional – in this case, it was etched on the side of a tractor,” Buck said.

On June 8, 1948, a farmer in Saskatchewan, Canada, named Cecil George Harris, became pinned under his tractor for more than 10 hours in a field turned to mud from heavy rain.

Fearing he wouldn’t be discovered until it was too late, Harris managed to etch 16 words onto the fender of his tractor – “In case I die in this mess I leave all to the wife. Cecil Geo Harris,” he wrote.

Harris was alive when he was finally discovered but died the following day in the hospital. He reportedly told no one about the will but it was discovered by neighbors who had visited the scene.

The courts accepted Harris’s etched fender as a valid handwritten will making the case a fascinating precedent commonly cited by law textbooks on wills and estates. The fender itself was donated to the University of Saskatchewan for public display in 1996.

“If the courts will accept a will written on a tractor fender, they’ll accept one written on a drugstore receipt,” Buck said, adding that he hopes to accomplish two things by assisting McCormick with the legal administering of his 18.5 foot last will and testament.

“If this story encourages other people to make their wishes known by getting their affairs in order, it would make me feel good,” the attorney said. “And if the companies that waste so much paper on needlessly lengthy receipts would just stop and offer the option of an emailed receipt, I’d feel even better.”

(In case you haven’t already figured it out, this is our April Fools’ Day edition. As such, there will be stories that are completely and totally made up. This is one such story.)

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