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Watch: Strangest Wills Ever: Daily Roses, Millionaire Pets, and More

A look into the intriguing and sometimes humorous world of unique last wills and testaments.

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Exploring the World of Unusual Wills

While most wills are seen as somber, straightforward documents, history is sprinkled with a few that have been anything but that. From whimsical requests to bizarre stipulations, there have always been people who channelled their creativity and left behind an unconventional – but certainly lasting – legacy. These unique requests are not only entertaining, but also highlight the importance of responsible estate planning.

Jack Benny: A Rose for Eternity

American comedian Jack Benny left a heartwarming gift for his widow. In a gesture of eternal love, he arranged for a single red rose to be delivered to her every day for the rest of her life. This touching act shows that there is always enough room in wills to express thoughtfulness and affection.

Leona Helmsley: Lavish Legacy Spells Trouble

In a bold move that summoned a wave of shocked headlines, Leona Helmsley left a staggering $12 million to her Maltese dog, Trouble. The decision proved her affection for her furry friend, but also inspired heated debates about the unconventional decision, mostly about the legalities – and morality – of leaving massive fortunes to the pampered pooch, or any other non-human beneficiary.

Harry Houdini: An Eternal Bond

Famed magician and escape artist Harry Houdini left a request as mystical as his life. In his will, he requested that his wife conduct an annual séance to contact him in the afterlife. The unusual request turned heads, but reflected his fascination with the supernatural, and the strength of the bond he shared with his wife.

Heinrich Heine: The Marital Mandate

Heinrich Heine, a German author and poet, also had a cheeky clause in his will. The condition for his wife to inherit his estate was that she could only receive the assets once she remarried. His logic was to ensure that “at least one man may mourn my death.” Heine’s will shows that wills can also be a source of humour and hope for those we leave behind.

Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara: Luck of the Draw

Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara was a Portuguese aristocrat who left his fortune truly up to fate. In a final act of kindness, he decided to leave his wealth to 70 complete strangers, each picked at random from a phone book. The selfless act of generosity illustrates the unexpected ways that many choose to have their estates impact the lives of others.

Jeremy Bentham: Academic Immortality

Across the sea, Jeremy Bentham is still sitting at University College London to greet all who enter. In his will, Bentham requested that his remains be treated and displayed at the university. This unique request proves his dedication to science and education, even after his death.

Solomon Sanborn: The Beat Goes On

A Boston hatmaker by the name of Solomon Sanborn had a request that couldn’t be beaten. In his will, Sanborn requested that his body be donated to science, and that two drums be fashioned for the sole purpose of playing the song “Yankee Doodle Dandy” every year to commemorate the anniversary of the famous battle.

Charles Millar: Baby Boom

Toronto lawyer and financier Charles Millar died childless in 1926 and left a bizarre request. He decreed that his fortune – worth over $10 million today – would go to the woman who had the most babies over the next 10 years. It ended in a tie and the estate was divided among four mothers, each of which had nine children.

The Impact of the Unconventional Wills

These examples of untraditional wills are certainly as surprising as they are entertaining, but they highlight the importance of ensuring to leave behind a clear, thoughtful will. Including personal flair in your final wishes is always a nice touch, but the first priority is always ensuring that your final testament is genuine, legally sound, and free from potential disputes or harm.

In the end, a well-crafted will is the best way to ensure that your legacy is preserved as you intended.

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