FREAKY FRIDAY – 10 of the strangest wills written
Leaving instructions for what should happen to your finances after your death is a serious matter. For some, the temptation to cause mischief or raise a smile from beyond the grave is too much to resist.
The legendary US comedian Jack Benny left an unusual but touching instruction in his will when he died in 1974. “Every day since Jack has gone, the florist has delivered one long-stemmed red rose to my home.” His widow Mary Livingstone wrote in a magazine shortly after his death. “I learned Jack had included a flower provision in his will. One red rose will be delivered daily for the rest of my life.”
A public-spirited donor made a half-million-pound bequest to Britain in 1928, now worth more than £350m. Unfortunately, the anonymous donor was concerned about how the money would be in allocation. When the national debt is in payment, the decree should be issued.
A boozy weekend. We all like to think that our friends will raise a glass to us when we’ve gone, but Roger Brown ensured it. The 67-year-old lost his life to prostate cancer in 2013. He left a secret legacy of £3,500 to seven closest friends. The proviso is that they use it for a boozy weekend away in a European city.
Roger Rees told the South Wales Evening Post, “We apologise for taking some of Roger’s two sons’ inheritance.” This was after the friends went on a weekend in Berlin. “Most of it went to beer; the rest went to waste.”
The “second-best bed” Poor Anne Hathaway, aka Mrs Shakespeare. She has gone down in history as being snubbed by the Bard from beyond the grave. Shakespeare left her his “second-best bed” in his will while most of his estate went to his daughter Susanna.
$12m to a dog In 2004. Billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley left instructions for her $4bn (£2.5bn) fortune to care for dogs, having rethought an earlier draft that left it to the poor. Her nine-year-old Maltese, Trouble, received $12m (£8m) in the will. Her grandchildren were either cut out or ordered to visit their father’s grave annually to inherit their share.
A judge later cut Trouble’s inheritance to just $2m (£1.2m). Although the dog still needed to go into hiding amid death and kidnap threats.
Flowers for Sidmouth. When self-made millionaire financier Keith Owen, 69, was diagnosed with cancer and given just a few weeks to live, he donated his entire £2.3m fortune to his favourite holiday spot, Sidmouth in Devon.
According to the decision – to donate to the Sid Vale Association. To ensure that one million flower bulbs are planted in the coastal town to keep the city awash in colour. He specifies that we will retain the capital but pay interest – about £125,000 a year. To be devoted to maintaining the town and two nearby villages.
Heinnrich “Henry” Heine
A new husband for some embittered spouses. A last will and testament is the last chance to insult their life partner again. So, it was for German poet Heinrich “Henry” Heine who left his estate to his wife, Matilda. In 1856, on the condition that she remarry so that “there will be at least one man to regret my death”. Ouch.
A legacy of bitterness. Michigan, USA, millionaire Wellington Burt used his will to put his enormous wealth out of reach of his family for almost an entire century. When he died in 1919, he left a will to specify that he would not distribute his wealth until 21 years after the death of his last surviving grandchild. She died in 1989. The 21-year countdown ended on November 2010. About 12 people discovered they were beneficiaries of the strange will. As a result, they shared a ten million dollar fortune that they described as a “legacy of bitterness.”.
A wife for a gay son. When Frank Mandelbaum’s will became public in 2007, news spread that he had left behind a $180,000 trust fund for his grandchildren. There was one additional clause. This concerned his son Robert. Robert’s children would only inherit a share if Robert agreed to marry their mother within six months of their birth. One small problem: Robert is gay and is raising his son, Cooper, with his husband.
Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara
Seventy strangers from a phone directory. It’s the stuff of daydreams and film scripts. When Portuguese aristocrat Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara wrote up his will, he left his considerable fortune to 70 strangers chosen from a Lisbon phone directory. “I thought it was some kind of cruel joke,” a 70-year-old heiress told Portugal’s Sol newspaper. “I’d never heard of the man.”
If you insist on a joke or an odd request, You should check whether this could invalidate the will and avoid doing it if it could. For more outlandish requests, it may be better to use the non-legally binding letter of wish.
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