More ‘wacky wills’

For most people, making a will is a dreary, perhaps even macabre task that they feel obliged to do.

If it helps, talking to a solicitor about what’s going to happen after we die was never high on our ‘Fun Things To Do’ list either.

And yet it’s an essential thing that anyone who has any assets should do.  Whether you own a house, a pet or a collection of commemorative tea-towels, you should make provision so that every part of your estate passes to someone. 

But making a will can also be an amusing and irreverent, if final, way of expressing your personality, and many of life’s characters have taken the opportunity to insert some very interesting clauses into their last written words.

In our previous blog article, “Making a will? Why so serious?”, we introduced a few personalities such as Janis Joplin who left $2,500 when she died in 1970 to pay for a party for all her friends.

We enjoyed writing about these eccentric wills so much, we’ve unearthed a few more people (not literally!) who also clearly had a bit of fun while talking to their solicitor:

When wealthy English gent Henry Budd died in Twickenham in 1862, his two sons Edward and William learned that he’d bequeathed to them an estate worth £200,000.  But there was a catch; the terms of the will stated they were prohibited from ever growing a moustache.  While this bequest was odd enough to have been reported widely in the British papers at the time, precisely what issue Mr Budd Senior had with facial hair (which of course was very fashionable in Victorian England) was unfortunately never revealed.

Will Jackett must have enjoyed drawing up his last will and testament more than most.  When it was read after Mr Jackett’s death in 1789, it turned out he was quite the poet.  And it was perfectly valid too; his sisters got the lot:

“I give and bequeath
When I'm laid underneath
To my loving sisters most dear

The whole of my store
Were it twice as much more
Which God's goodness has given me here

And that none shall prevent
This my will and intent
Or occasion the least of raw-racket

With a solemn appeal
I confirm, sign and seal
This the true act and deed of Will Jackett.”

The impressively-named Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara was a Portuguese bachelor aristocrat who died childless in 2007 leaving an estate worth over €50,000.  But he’d planned ahead; in 1994 he visited his lawyer’s office with a Lisbon phone directory and, in front of two witnesses, randomly picked 70 names out of the phone book to be the beneficiaries of his entire estate.  More than a few naturally presumed it was some kind of wind up when they were contacted by lawyers.  It wasn’t.

Many people donate their body to science (which by the way, for it to be a proper legal request, must be done in accordance with the Human Tissue Act), but Andre Tchaikowsky had more specific ambitions.  A Polish immigrant, he survived the horrors of German concentration camps as a child but succumbed to colon cancer in Oxford in 1982.  Being a very enthusiastic theatre-lover, and a particular fan of Shakespeare, his will specifically instructed that his head be removed from his body, and his skull bequeathed to the Royal Shakespeare Company.  Mr Tchaikowsky had to wait until 2008 for his big break, 26 years after his death, but it was actor David Tennant who finally agreed to use the gruesome remains as – of course – Yorick in Hamlet.

Hopefully this article has got you thinking about what your own last wish might be?  If so, look out for our next blog article which will feature some of the greatest final wishes that we could find (one of which is literally out of this world).

Whether you want to make a lasting last impression with everyone, or whether you’d rather leave this mortal coil with much less fuss (like, let’s face it, most people), then get in touch with us because we’re experts when it comes to making a will, and we can advise on the best, most tax-efficient and most appropriate way of leaving your estate to those who mean the most to you.

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