"To my profligate, but dearly loved, grandson, who would gleefully squander any other form of inherited wealth and harm himself grievously in the process, I hereby bequeath - my pension."

Stick something like that in your will and your solicitor will sigh and strike it out again. It is not allowed.

With exceptions for half-pensions for surviving spouses and in some schemes a loophole for children in full-time education, British pensions die with you.

There would be a right old mess if they didn't.

There is enough trouble already with today's oldies lingering on longer than the actuaries thought possible.

But that is with final salary schemes and few of the present working generation who have chosen to make a living outside the public sector can expect to retire on final salary pension covering their entire working lives.

Even paternalistic companies with successful final salary schemes face competitive pressure from rivals that have closed them.

Twenty-first century pensions are to an increasing extent money purchase, drawn from a "pot" of capital, built up and invested with tax privileges during your working life.

The traditional way to do this was to take out a personal pension with an insurance company.

But after the disaster at Equitable Life and what looked like a narrow squeak at Standard Life (now going far better as a listed company), that is less appealing than it was.

Nobody is more aware of this than the numerous accountants and solicitors who had pension policies with these two companies - and now advise other people on pensions.

They are steering their clients into self-invested personal pensions, known as SIPPs, where the outcome is not hostage to the luck, competence, or lack of it, of some insurance company's investment managers.

Many individuals are deeply disillusioned with pensions.

They feel let down, that they are not getting either the security or the hard cash that they had been led to expect.

Next time they intend to do it themselves. Bold souls have gone into buy-to-let as a substitute for a pension.

Some are now discovering that it is neither risk - nor tax -free

Bob Woods, chairman of the pension consultants Mattioli Woods, is convinced that upwards of three million Britons could be signing up for SIPPs in the next few years - and that they would do so with greater enthusiasm if they could pass on to the next generation anything left in their pension "pot" that they never live to spend.

One of the attractions of a SIPP is that you need not hand the entire "pot" to an insurance company to buy an annuity, an income for life.

You can take it slice by slice in a "draw down", in which event there is very possibly something left over.

It should remain as a future pension for a lucky heir, in Mr Woods' view, not a cash windfall to blow here and now.

The Government might skim off the top in inheritance tax - but it would be pleasant if it refrained.

Either way, it would help to restore much-needed faith in pensions.