Don’t get me wrong, writing a Will to let loved ones know what your wishes are after you die is a serious matter. However, on a lighter note, I thought it would be interesting to share with you some of the more stranger Wills that have gone down in history
#1 – Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini was arguably one of the best magicians and escape artists of all time. Following his death in 1926, Houdini left a very detailed 23 clause Will with an update (Codicil), which was prepared in 1925. He decided to give $500 each to his assistants, donated $1000 to the Society of American Magicians and requested that his estate be liquidated and distributed to family. All very normal requests. What was a little stranger was what he left his wife, Bess – a secret code. This code included ten words chosen at random. Bess was to hold a séance following Houdini’s death until contact was made. So that she knew it was him, Houdini would say the code. Bess held seances for 10 years after her husband passed away. If she ever managed to make contact with him is unknown.
#2 – Jonathan Jackson
Jonathan Jackson died around 1880 and was an animal lover. So much so that in his Will he left money so that a cat house could be built. What is a cat house? A place where cats can call home and enjoy comforts including; bedroom, dining hall, an exercise room and even a specially designed roof that cats can climb without risking one of their nine lives.
#3 – S. Sanborn
American hat maker S. Sanborn passed away in 1871. He decided to leave his body to science, giving it to the then professor of anatomy at Harvard Medical School, Oliver Wendell Holmes. This is where it starts to get a little on the strange side, some may say morbid. In his Will he requested that his skin would be made into drums and given to a friend. There was a condition. The friend had to play “Yankee Doodle” annually on June 17. Why that date? To commemorate the anniversary of the Revolutionary War Battle.
#4 – Sandra West
Beverly Hills socialite and wife of Ike West (Texas oil tycoon) decided that she wanted to be buried inside her favourite powder blue Ferrari sports car “with the seat slanted comfortably”. When she died in 1977, West and her $20,000 car were buried in a grave at the Alamo Masonic Cemetery. Cement was a must to prevent vandals.
#6 – Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara
Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara boasted of a noble Portuguese lineage and was very rich. However, he was lonely having few friends, no offspring and being the illegitimate and unloved son of an aristocratic woman. When it was time for him to write his Will, he decided to pick out names at random from the Lisbon phone book.
#7 – Henry Budd
Londoner Henry Budd did not like moustaches, so much so that in his Will he requested that if either of his sons decided to try out having a moustache their inheritance would be void. Very harsh if you ask me!
#8 – Robert Louis Stevenson
In his Will, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote that his friend should receive “his birthday”. His friend used to always complain about having to celebrate her birthday on Christmas day, so he decided that she could have his. Now that is what I call friendship!
#9 – Napoleon Bonaparte
French statesman and military leader Napoleon Bonaparte rose to prominence during the French Revolution. In his Will he requested that following his death, his head would be shaved, and his hair divided up between his friends. It is unknown what the friends did with his hair.
That sadly brings me to the end of my blog. I have enjoyed sharing the strangest Wills that have gone down in history with you. I would love to hear what you would add to the list!
This blog just goes to show how important Wills are, as they ensure that your wishes are carried out after you die. If you would like to talk to me about your Will, a conversation is free and no obligation.