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Unusual last wills

William_Randolph_Hearst_cph_3a49373To leave your surviving spouse the house and all the money in the bank accounts seems like a very normal thing.  Perhaps you might leave a small percent to a charity or church.  Maybe you want your favorite granddaughter to have your wedding ring set to remember you by.  Again, all normal bequests to have in your will.  And for the most part, items left to people in a will are pretty much what you’d expect to see in a will.  However, there are a few famous individuals that left some rather odd items to loved ones.  Here are some examples of strange bequests:

  1. T.M. Zink, a lawyer from Iowa, truly despised women.  Mr. Zink passed in 1930 and for 75 years had money in a trust, an amount of $50,000.  His hatred of women caused him to have a last wish that a womanless library be created with the funds from his trust.  No books by women, no artwork by women and no decorations by women.  His family successfully challenged his will.
  2. John Bowman, who died in 1891, set up a trust of $50,000 for his servants to maintain his 21 room mansion.  His last wish was that dinner be made for him every night after his death in case he was reincarnated.
  3. Napoleon Bonaparte requested after his death that his head be shaved and the hair be divided between his friends.
  4. Harry Houdini was an enthusiast of séances and spiritualists.  His last wish was to have his wife hold and annual séance so he might show himself to her.
  5. George Bernard Shaw, who died in 1950, had a last wish that there be no religious ceremony and his tombstone not be in the shape of a cross or other device of torture.
  6. Charles Dickens requested in his will that no mourners attending his services should wear scarves, cloaks, black bows, long hatbands or other revolting absurdities.
  7. William Shakespeare requested that his wife get his second best bed.
  8. Ben Franklin requested that his daughter not engage in the “expensive, vain and useless pastime of wearing jewels” during a democracy.
  9. William Hearst, magazine mogul and grandfather of Patricia Hearst, requests that any person who can prove they are a child of his should receive one dollar.  He states any such claim is utterly false.
  10. John B Kelly, who was a triple Olympic gold medalist, requested that his daughter, Grace Kelly, not bankrupt the country of Monaco with her clothing bills.


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