Weird And Wonderful Will Bequests

Hair taken from the dead man’s head, a birthday and enough money for a great wake party – that’s just some of the weird and wonderful things people have left in their wills.

Here at Finders Ireland, we mainly deal in cases where people have died without leaving a valid will, but there are plenty of interesting stories of what people do leave behind in their wills.

Here are just some of the bequests made.

Janis Joplin. The recording artist and songwriter Janis Joplin died in 1970. Her will set aside $2,500 for a wake party – perhaps so that she could ensure those she left behind remembered her fondly.

Roger Brown. The 67-year-old’s will also made the same provision as Joplin. When Brown died of cancer in 2013, he left behind £3,500 to seven of his friends, requesting that they spend it on a boozy weekend in a European city. Brown’s friends apologised to his sons for taking away some of their inheritance, but they spent it anyway on a weekend in Berlin.

Mark Gruenwald. Gruenwald was best known for his work with Marvel Comics and he was the executive editor of Captain America and Iron Man. He died of a fatal heart attack in 1996 and his will made the request that he be cremated and his ashes mixed with ink that was to be used in comic books. The wish was carried out.

Robert Louis Stevenson. The author’s will made a very strange request. The writer of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Treasure Island made a gift of the date of his birthday to his friend Annie H. Ide. Her birthday was on Christmas Day and she’d told Stevenson she always felt cheated because of this. He gave her his birthday – November 13.

Napoleon Bonaparte. When the French military and political leader died in 1821, his will asked that his head be shaved and the hair distributed among his friends. Obviously, this might have been difficult to carry out had he gone bald.

Jonathan Jackson. This Ohio animal lover who died in 1880 left his fortune to be used to create a house for cats. The house would also have a specially designed roof for climbing, as well as bedrooms, a gym, a dining room and an auditorium where they could listen to live music.

Harry Houdini. Houdini held strong views on the afterlife and when he died in 1926, he left random words in his will for his wife. He requested that she hold a séance every Hallowe’en following his death, the intention being that he would communicate with her using these words. Mrs Houdini duly carried out his wishes, giving up ten years later as Houdini hadn’t contacted her.

Anonymous. An anonymous donator left money to clear the national debt in 1928. The money was left to Britain – but the condition was that the money could only be passed on when it was enough to clear the entire national debt. The donor left £500,000, which is now worth more than £350 million. The total national debt is currently thought to be £1.56 trillion.