A Last Will and Testament is a person’s last chance to have a say in what happens on this planet earth. Some people take those desires and intentions to extremes, whether that’s by weaponizing their will and causing irreparable harm or even death; it’s further discrimination that the testator practiced in life, or just having a lark at other’s expense. Your last will and testament is your final say and some people really had a lot to say. Take a look at these 9 outrageous last wills and testaments.
The Weaponized Will
They say you can’t take it with you, but some people decided instead of taking things, they’d take people. These three people decided that it wasn’t enough to disinherit someone, they wanted to make their relatives pay for the rest of their lives – however short that was.
- I want to be remembered forever. Heinrich Heine, a German poet, required his wife to remarry in order to receive her inheritance of his estate. Heine stated that his intention in so requiring was so that “there would be at least one man to regret his death.” (Source)
- It turns out you can take it with you. Another German testator required that his wake be held in the upper story of his residence. With his relatives gathered around the casket, whether in mourning or joy, the floor collapsed and most of the mourners were killed. It was later discovered that shortly before his death, the man had sawn through the supporting beams. (Source)
- A Cigar a Day Keeps the Mortician Nearby. During their marriage, Mrs. Bratt wouldn’t allow her husband to smoke a cigar, thinking they were a noxious habit. When Samuel Bratt died in 1960, he left everything to his wife, provided that she smoke five cigars a day for the rest of her life. Talk about being a total brat! (Source)
The Discriminating Testator
Some testators use their Wills to further the discrimination they practiced in life.
- No Girls Allowed! When Iowa attorney T.M. Zink died in 1930, his Will disinherited his wife and daughter, leaving a sum of money to be invested for 75 years. The investment was then intended to open a library, which shall never admit a woman, nor any works created by women, and shall have signed above the doors reading “No Women Admitted.” Zink further stated, “My intense hatred of women is not of recent origin or development nor based upon any personal differences I ever had with them but is the result of my experiences with women, observations of them, and study of all literature and philosophical works within my limited knowledge relating thereto.” His wife had him declared of unsound mind and his will was tossed out, including the discriminatory bequeath to a “no girls allowed” library/clubhouse. (Source)
- No breeches for poor people. When Reverend John Gwyon died in 1939, his will required that his entire estate be liquidated and the money set aside to create the “Gwyon’s Boys Clothing Foundation,” which would provide new short trousers (also known as knee breeches, or knickerbockers) to boys aged 5 and 15 in his hometown of Farnham and District. While this sounds like it should be widely supported, Gwyon also included the odd stipulation that the recipients of his short trousers “must not be supported by any other charity, must not receive poor relief, [and] must not be black.” (Source)
I Just Want a Laugh
Whether a person is a great humorist, has no relatives, or just decides that they want to have a postmortem lark with their heirs, some testators really go for the gag with their wills.
- The Great Canadian Stork Derby. Canadian millionaire Charles Vance Millar was a bit of a jokester. He described his will as “necessarily uncommon and capricious” because he had “no dependents or near relations.” In what became known as the Stork Derby, Millar left approximately $9 million CAD to the Toronto family that could birth the most children in the ten years immediately following his death. What Millar didn’t count on was the Great Depression. At the end of 10 years, over 30 families showed up at the Court Room to hear the final distribution of Millar’s Stork Derby. Four families received $2 million CAD in today’s dollars for having nine children in the 10 years after Millar’s death. Another two families received about $200,000 CAD in settlement efforts. In 2002, The Stork Derby hit the silver screen. (source)
- The Get-Along-Island. In addition to the Stork Debry, Millar from above left an island getaway home to three men who hated each other, on the condition that they own it together. He also left interests in a jockey club to people he knew hated gambling and he left shares in a brewery to teetotalling religious leaders. (source)
We’ve got nothing for this, but please don’t invite us to the wake, to the reading of the will, or to the afterparty.
- This is my body. The Founder of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, has several extreme bodily bequeath in her will, and although it hasn’t been tested, it is doubtful that any of it is enforceable, but only time will tell. Newkirk requests that the “meat” of her body is used for a human barbeque, that her skin is made into leather products, such as purses, that her feet are removed and turned into umbrella stands or other ornamentation, that her eyes are removed and sent to the head of the EPA, that her fingers are delivered to the owner of the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Baily Circus, that her liver is sent to France, that her ears are sent to the Canadian Parliament, and then suggests that any other distributions of her body draw attention to the plight of animals. As far as the ultimate support for your cause, she’s really going all the way, however, whether any of these requests are legal is an entirely different matter. (Source)
There you have it, eight outrageous last will and testament provisions (yes, two came from the same Last Will and Testament, but both were pretty outrageous). Not all of these provisions were held as enforceable, and some haven’t been tested yet because the person is still alive. It goes to show that, yes, you can write almost anything you want, but that doesn’t mean you can get whatever you want.
Do you want to find out if your last will and testament wishes are a bit on the outrageous side? Let’s schedule a time to talk and see if we can help you with your Will. Schedule a call here! Schedule a call here!