Unusual Bequests: Lessons from the Strangest Wills in History
At Just Wills and Legal Services, we understand that estate planning is a deeply personal process, reflecting the unique wishes and character of each individual. History has seen some truly bizarre and fascinating Wills, offering not just amusement but also valuable lessons in estate planning. We’re able to explore these Wills because once they are admitted to probate, they become public documents.
1. The Millionaire Who Left a Fortune to His Dog
One of the most famous strange Wills is that of hotelier Leona Helmsley, who left $12 million to her dog, Trouble. While this may seem excessive, it highlights an important aspect of estate planning: the ability to provide for your pets after your passing. Just Wills and Legal Services can help you set up a pet trust, ensuring your furry friends are cared for according to your wishes. Interestingly, under English and Welsh law, pets can’t directly inherit. You can leave money to a trust for the benefit of a pet or pets and appoint people you trust as trustees to administer the trust.
2. The Man Who Willed a Party to Strangers
In 1928, Louis Legacy left a bequest to throw a party for 15 strangers, chosen at random. This unusual request underscores the flexibility of Wills in allowing you to leave a lasting impact in unexpected ways. JWALS can assist in crafting a Will that ensures your final wishes, no matter how unconventional, are legally binding and executable. Whilst we haven’t administered a Will quite like this, we’re experienced in drafting even the most complex of Wills.
3. The Comedian Who used their Will creatively.
Famous comedian Jack Benny left a provision in his Will for a single red rose to be delivered to his wife every day for the rest of her life. This romantic gesture demonstrates that Wills can be a platform for expressing your personality and love, even after you’re gone. JWALS can guide you in adding personal touches to your Will that reflect your character and sentiments.
4. The Writer Who Bequeathed His Birthday
Playwright George Bernard Shaw left a portion of his estate to fund the creation of a new alphabet. This included the stipulation that his birthday, July 26, be declared a national holiday. While this specific wish was not granted, it shows that Wills can be used to support causes and passions important to you. JWALS can help structure your Will to include charitable donations or support for personal causes.
5. The Star Trek Fan Who Left His Fortune to Actors
A devoted Star Trek fan left portions of his estate to the series’ main actors, despite having no personal connection to them. This illustrates that your Will can include bequests to anyone, not just family and friends. Just Wills and Legal Services advises on the legalities of such bequests, ensuring they are carried out as intended.
While these Wills may be on the more unusual side, they serve as reminders of the diverse possibilities in estate planning. Whether you wish to leave a legacy in a traditional manner or with a unique twist, Just Wills and Legal Services is here to ensure your final wishes are respected and fulfilled. Remember, your Will is a reflection of your life, values, and personality, and it can be as unique as you are.
Get in touch
Book your free 20 minute consultation with an expert either by video or phone call now