Weird and Wacky Wills
Most people don’t like to think about their own deaths and don’t have much of a sense of humor about the whole thing. There are those, however, who have chosen to use their last will and testament as a place to display their creativity or humorous side or just to get the last word in a family argument. Although most of us don’t like to dwell on our immortality and often use that emotion as an excuse to put off estate planning, here’s some people that must have thought long and hard to come up with their wills.
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Heinrich Heine was a German poet who died in 1856. He left his estate to his wife, with one condition…she must remarry. His reasoning? “Because then there will be at least one man to regret my death.”
Henry Budd died in 1862. His will created a 200,000 pound trust fund for his two sons. The only catch was that neither of them could ever grow a moustache.
From the will of an anonymous Irishman come these wise words: “To my wife, I leave her lover and the knowledge that I was not the fool she thought me; to my son, I leave the pleasure of earning a living. For 20 years he thought the pleasure was mine; he was mistaken.”
Gene Rodenberry, the creator of the Star Trek TV phenomenon, loved space and science fiction so much that he requested that his body be cremated and sent into space. His final wishes were honored and he was carried away from Earth on a Spanish satellite. His ashes were shot into the atmosphere as the satellite orbited the planet.
Mark Gruenwald, of Marvel Comic fame, was so passionate about his work that he left instructions for his ashes to be blended with ink and used in comic books. According to an Associated Press story, 4,000 copies of Gruenwald's 'ink-and-ashes' edition were distributed in 1997.
Ed Hedrick, the man who perfected Frisbees, made a last wish was that his ashes be molded into memorial discs and sold to raise money for a museum dedicated to the history of the Frisbee.
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Leona Helmsley, hotelier, real estate mogul and “the queen of mean”, disinherited two of her four grandchildren. Instead, she left a 12 million dollar trust for the care of Trouble, her dog.
Jonathon Jackson, an avid animal lover, left money to establish a “cat house” where felines could live in safety and comfort. The house was to include bedrooms, a dining room, an entertainment room where the cats could enjoy live accordion music, an exercise room and a roof that was designed so the cats could climb around on it without endangering themselves.
Eleanor E. Ritchey, the heir to the Quaker State Refining Corporation, left $4.5 million to her dogs…all 150 of them…in 1968. Her family contested the will and the dogs ended up with $9 million (the value grew to $14 million while the case was in dispute). When the last dog died in 1984 the remainder of the money went to Auburn University Research Fund for research into animal diseases.
Surprisingly enough, one American who was a lawyer but died without leaving a will was President Abraham Lincoln. His wife received only $130 a month for 36 months while his estate dragged through probate. Don’t force your loved ones to go without as the Lincoln family was forced to do. See a lawyer to start planning your estate.
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