Famously, in Shakespeare’s will, he left his ‘second-best bed’ to his wife Anne and here at Border Wills we can help you set down your legacy too. Take inspiration from the quirkiest instructions ever left in wills – one thing they all prove is that writing a will doesn’t have to be deadly serious.
Chemist Fredric Baur patented the design of the Pringles tube in the 1960s, and requested in his will that some of his ashes be buried in one of his iconic inventions. Baur’s children honoured his request.
Famous contortionist and escapologist Harry Houdini left instructions that his wife Bess should hold a séance every year to see whether he appeared from beyond the grave. He wrote a note detailing the message he’d communicate from the other side. Bess faithfully held a séance every Halloween – the anniversary of his death in 1926 – for ten years.
The longest known will was made by Mrs Frederica Cook who died in 1925 – it was 95,940 words and four volumes in length. The shortest known will was made by a man who simply wrote ‘all for mother’.
People in Portugal got lucky – 70 people in Lisbon, to be precise – when their names were randomly selected from the phone directory by aristocrat Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara. They were to become beneficiaries to his estate, which consisted of a 12-room apartment in central Lisbon, a house in the north of Portugal, a car and 25,000 euros. ‘Every day you hear of pranks people play,’ one of the shocked and initially suspicious benefactors told a Portuguese newspaper in 2007 when Luis Carlos had died and she’d received a phone call about her inheritance.
Forget leaving it all to the local cats’ home – Jonathan Jackson of Ohio, went one further when he drew up his will in the late 19th Century, bequeathing money for the creation of a ‘cat house’ in which the feline residents were to have their own sleeping quarters, dining hall, conversation room and auditorium where they could listen to the accordion. ‘It is man’s duty as lord of animals to watch over and protect the lesser and feebler,’ he stated.
US comedian and actor, Jack Benny, left a rather lovely legacy to his wife Mary after he died in 1974 – every day, for the rest of her life, the florist would deliver one long-stemmed, red rose to her door.
Wiltshire man, Stephen Cuthbert’s will, written in 2002 requested that, if possible, his body was to be transported to the crematorium in the back of a Cortina estate. In addition to this, ‘a piss-up is to be held at a venue to be decided by my trustees and to be funded entirely by my estate’.
When Albert Orton from Coventry died in 1888, he left his wife the sum of one farthing – because of ‘the treatment I have received at her hands’, according to his will, that included calling him a ‘rotten old pig’ when he broke wind in her presence, even though he was ill at the time.
Whether your bequests are barking or benevolent, we at Border Wills are your local will writing experts. Give us a call on 0151 559 0695 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat about writing a will.