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Unusual and Unwanted Wills

Over time, wills have provided opportunities to be comical, to support odd causes – or just be plain bonkers.

Cold calling
It’s often hard to know who should benefit from your estate, particularly if you don’t have children. Portuguese aristocrat, Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara, came up with a novel solution. When he died in 2007, his ‘considerable’ fortune was split between 70 people, randomly chosen from a Lisbon phone directory.

Out of print
Mark Gruenwald was executive editor of Marvel Comics, dying in 1996. His request – honoured by the company – was to have his cremated remains mixed with ink and used to print 4,000 copies of a paperback compilation called Squadron Supreme.

Birthday present
Renowned Scots author, Robert Louis Stevenson, left a special bequest for his friend Annie – his birthday, 13 November. Annie had lamented the fact that she was born on Christmas day and had to share her celebrations. But after Robert’s death in 1894, she inherited his birthday – although he asked that she treat it with ‘moderation . . . the said birthday not being so young as it once was!’

Pampered pets
Perhaps you’ve heard of millionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley’s 2004 bequest of £12m to her dog, Trouble, and other well-provided-for pets. However, pop singer Dusty Springfield raised the bar when she died in 1999, stipulating that her cat Nicholas live in a 7ft indoor treehouse, be fed on imported baby food, serenaded by Dusty’s records at night and ‘married’ to her friend’s female cat.

To boldly go
Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, asked that his ashes be scattered in space – and so they were, released via a satellite orbiting the earth in 1997.

Ash can
Fred Baur was the inventor of freeze-dried icecream and the tubular, cardboard Pringles can. When he died in 2008 his ashes were buried in a Pringles container, as per his wishes.

Stuff and nonsense
English philosopher and social reformer, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), left his body to University College London, to be publicly dissected. But that wasn’t the end of it – he then wanted his remains permanently preserved and displayed at the university. Stuffed with hay and bearing a new, wax head, he still attends UCL meetings – although these days he is noted as being ‘present but not voting’.

Saying it with flowers
Jack Benny, US funnyman and romantic, made sure in his will to send his wife a single, long-stemmed red rose every day for the rest of her life. Similarly, millionaire financier Keith Owen left his entire estate, worth £2.3m in 2007, to the Devon town of Sidmouth, where he enjoyed happy holidays and spent his last days. Using this money, Sidmouth Council plants thousands of flowering bulbs every year, fulfilling Keith’s dying wish to see the town blooming with ‘a million flowers’.

But the weirdest fact of all is that not even half of UK adults make wills at all. Make sure you’re one of those who does, so your belongings go to the right people, and your wishes (however bizarre) are fulfilled!

Contact us
TLB Planning specialises in legal affairs, insurances and funeral plans to take you and your loved ones “Through Life and Beyond”.

Our Legal Services staff have extensive experience in the field and are all STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) qualified Will Drafters, so you can be confident that we provide the highest professional standards.

Whether you’re in the north of the country - Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham, south – Kent or Devon, or in Wales, if you would like to talk to us about your plans for wills, Guardianship Clauses, Lasting Powers of Attorney, trusts and other matters, do get in touch on 01792 342 673 or email us at info@tlbplanning.org