The Top Ten Strangest Will Bequests

The Top Ten Strangest Will Bequests

by Kit Carson, December 2009

What possesses people to make strange wills? Perhaps it is the idea that this is their chance to "have the last word" with their families. Maybe, it is the chance to do something after death that they could not do in life. Whatever the motive, there have been a number of requests that are just down right weird.

Here are the ten that topped our list of the most bizarre:

Lucky Number Ten: The Dreamer

At first glance, the name Gene Roddenberry may not seem familiar. But, if you're a trekkie, Roddenberry is your god. He is after all the man that created the original Star Trek series that eventually spun off into so many versions that UPN executives can thank him for helping the fledging station build a network.In fact, he crafted a science fiction empire. And, he put that money and influence to use: His ashes were flown into space on a Spanish satellite and shot out as the satellite orbited earth.

Number Nine: The Poet

Long before Roddenberry was captivating audiences on television, Heinrich Heine was capturing the hearts of poetry aficionados all over Europe. Both a poet and satirist, Heine grew up in Germany but made the more liberal country of France his home. He spent years writing romantic poetry to his wife, although, you wouldn't believe it after reading his final thoughts to her in his will. Heine left his estate to his wife on the condition that she remarry, so "there will be at least one man to regret my death."

Numbers Six, Seven and Eight: The Vengeful Ones

Heine wasn't the only man to give his loved one's a piece of his mind. According to Nigerian Newsday, Mr. S. A. Mike, an Abuja-based civil servant, wrote a will in2001 as a means of asserting his authority over his family and demanding more respect from them. Of his wife, he wrote, "To my beloved wife I leave you with your lover with the knowledge that I wasn't the fool you thought I was." He also wrote, "To my son I leave my cars which you almost ruined, and I want you to have the satisfaction of finishing the job." I guess they didn't write LOVING FATHER AND HUSBAND on the tombstone.

Samuel Bratt used his will to simply get even. His wife never allowed him to smoke;so he returned the favor. The embittered Bratt left her £330,000, provided that she smoked five cigars per day. Another disgruntled husband left his whole estate to his sisters, and specified in his will, "To my wife, as are compense for deserting me and leaving me in peace, I expect the said sister,Elizabeth, to make a gift of ten shillings sterling, to buy her a pocket handkerchief to weep after my decease."

Numbers Four and Five: The Eccentrics

Sometimes,you just can't keep a good philosopher down, or at least dead and buried; which is the case with British philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Remember him from your freshman philosophy class. Not only did Mr. Bentham espouse the glory of utilitarianism but it also seems that he espoused the utility of using one's body after death. He was so enchanted with this idea that he offered his up for both use and study. In fact, his body is currently kept on display at the University College London just in case you are morbidly curious.

But Ben than isn't the only man with the hubris to believe he should be displayed even after death. Quite frankly, Juan Potomachi may even have Bentham beat. In1955, Potomachi left over $ 50,000 dollars to the Teatro Dramatico Theatre - on the condition that his skull be used in Hamlet.

Numbers Two and Three: A Vampire and An Atheist

Some people's beliefs (or lack thereof) inspire their instructions. Mr. Harold West, who believed in vampires, left exact instructions concerning what to do with his body, including, "my doctor is to drive a steel stake through my heart to make sure that I am properly dead." On the non-believer side, Ernest Digweed left £26,000 to Jesus on the condition that his identity could be proven.

Number One: The Comic

Along the lines of the Irish wake, some people try to inspire others to celebrate life rather than mourn their passing. In 1983, Tom Goodson asked his relatives to give everyone who attended his funeral an envelope containing a one pound note with the words, "Have a smoke, crack a joke. Thanks for coming," written on it.

While strange requests are not uncommon in wills even today, it's probably better if you get your complaints out in the open while you are still alive, rather than writing them into your will. As for letting your ashes orbit the Earth for six years - well, maybe that one should be in your will.