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10 most bizarre wills of all time

19 January 2020

Lauren Smith

Making a Will isn’t usually considered exciting, but it is essential to ensure that your wishes are followed on your death.  

In the UK, fewer than half of adults have written a will, and experts believe there are over 26 million people with no formal instructions for what should happen to their possessions after their death.

Whilst Will writing isn’t exciting there have been some bizarre Wills made in the past… so maybe those without a Will could make it a bit more interesting!


  • Flowers every day – An American comedian Jack Benny left an unusual but toughing request on his Will when he died in 1974. “Every day since Jack has gone, the florist has delivered a long-stemmed rose to my home” his widow Mary Livingstone wrote in a magazine, shortly after his death she learnt that Jack had included this request in his Will.


  • Anonymous donation to ‘clear the national debt.’ – a public-spirited donor made a half a million-pound bequest to Britain in 1928, which is now worth more than £350m, he was very specific on how the money should be spent. It should only be passed on once it is enough to clear the entire national debt. However, the national debt stands at £1.5tn and so the country cannot touch the money.


  • A boozy weekend – A 67-year-old called Roger Brown unfortunately lost his life to prostate cancer in 2013, leaving behind a secret inheritance of £3,500 to seven of his closest friends, with the condition that they’d use it for a boozy weekend.


  • The” second-best bed” – Anne Hathaway (Mrs Shakespeare) has gone down in history for being insulted by the Bard beyond the grave. In his Will Shakespeare left her his “second-best bed” while the vast bulk of his estate went to his daughter Susanna. However, experts say that Anne could almost certainly claim under the inheritance as Shakespeare’s Will failed to make ‘reasonable financial prevision’ for her.


  • £8m to a pet! – In 2004, billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley left instructions for her £2.5bn fortune to be spent caring for dogs. Her 9-year-old Maltese, Trouble, received £8m in the Will while her grandchildren were either cut out of it or had to visit their father’s grave annually to inherit their share. The dog’s inheritance was later cut to just 1.2m by a judge although the dog still needed to go into hiding because of death threats and kidnap threats.


  • Flowers for Sidmouth – When millionaire financer Keith Owen was diagnosed with cancer and told he had weeks to live, he donated his whole fortune of £2.3m to his favourite holiday spot, Sidmouth in Devon. He wanted some of it to be spent on one million flowering bulbs to keep the coastal town awash with colour and that about £125,000 a year should be spent on maintaining the town and two nearby villages.


  • A new husband – In 1856 German poet Heinrich “Henry” Heine left his estate to his wife, on the condition that she remarry, so that “there Will be at least one man to regret my death”.


  • Disinheritance of family – Millionaire Wellington Burt used his Will to put his enormous wealth out of reach of his family for almost a full century. When he died his Will was discovered to specify that most of his fortune should be passed on until 21 years after the death of his last surviving grandchild. She died in 1989 and the 21-year countdown ended in November 2010. About 12 people discovered that they benefitted from this Will and they shared a fortune of $110m.


  • A wife! - when Frank Mandelbaum died in 2007, he had left behind a $180,000 trust fund for his grandchildren, however, there was a complication which concerned his son Robert. Roberts children would only get a share if Robert agreed to marry their mother within six months of their birth, one small problem is that Robert is gay and raising a son with his husband.


  • Seventy strangers – when Portuguese aristocat Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral de Camara wrote his Will, he left his considerable fortune to 70 strangers randomly chosen out of Lisbon phone directory. One person who received a sum of the money stated that they thought it was some form of ‘cruel joke’ and suggested that he’d never heard of the man.


Here at Taylor Bracewell, we thrive on helping people to secure a safer future for their families in-case of sudden death.

Our solicitors work around the clock to ensure that every client leaves happy if you need any advice on how to make a Will or the contents that need to be included in a Will speak to one of our experts today.

We have offices located in both Sheffield (0114 272 1884) & Doncaster (01302 341 414)