Seven of the whackiest wills ever

Did you know that your will should provide for your funeral expenses and debts to be paid? But apart from that and having it witnessed properly, there are few conditions for what you can put in your will.

In fact, some people write the most extraordinary requirements into their bequests. Here are seven of the weirdest inheritances with strings attached:

Horrible husband
German poet Heinrich Heine left his estate to his wife with a stipulation that she remarry. His will indicated the condition was so “there would be at least one man to regret my death”.

Mean millionaire
A wealthy Michigan man stipulated in his will that his fortune not be passed on until 21 years after the death of his last surviving grandchild. The last child died in 1989 and the fortune was dispersed in 2010. About a dozen people were beneficiaries and shared an estimated $153 million.

Surprise for strangers
Portuguese aristocrat Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara left his considerable fortune to 70 strangers he randomly chose out of a phone directory in Lisbon. When his heirs were notified, many thought it was a joke, as they had never met the man.

Not by the book
In 1930, lawyer T.M. Zink left his estate to the town of Le Mars, Iowa, to build the Zink Womanless Library. No women were to be admitted into the library. In fact, he stipulated that only men were allowed to contribute to the library design, construction, operation and maintenance. He also demanded that in order for his widow to continue living in the family home, she had to pay $55 a month into the trust set up for the library.

Pooch is no paw-per
The relatives of deceased American businesswoman Leona Helmseley discovered her Maltese terrier was ‘trouble’ in more than just name. Ms Helmsely bequeathed $12 million to her pet Trouble in 2007. The figure was much more than her grandchildren were meant to receive. Mercifully, a judge ruled to slash the dog’s inheritance to $2 million.

Smoking gun
Samuel Bratt was prohibited from smoking cigars by his wife because she considered them noxious. So when he died in 1960, Mrs Bratt could lay claim to his estate only if she smoked five cigars a day, according to his will.

Born again Christian
Norman Earnest Digweed’s 1897 will promised Jesus Christ a substantial donation if he repeated his resurrection. JC was to rise up from the dead again and if convinced the executors of Mr Digweed’s estate that he was indeed the Lord, then into his collection plate would pour riches.

Do you have a strange bequest in your will? Should people be allowed to leave fortunes behind for their pets? Should wills that seek to ‘punish’ the benefactors be allowed?

Related articles:
The cost of updating a will
What does an executor do?
Avoid estate planning mistakes

YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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