The purpose of a Will is simple. It’s intended to help the people left behind when you die dispose of your estate according to your wishes. But some people see their Will as an opportunity to send a message from beyond the grave or to get their own back on someone or even to have the last laugh.
Ever thought about what would be in your Will? It’s certainly good to get your Will sorted as it will make things so much simpler for your nearest and dearest. Here’s a selection of some of most weird and most wonderful Wills—which we don’t suggest you follow!
1) Harry Houdini
Master escapee and daring magician Harry Houdini fittingly died on Halloween 1926. Having become fascinated by the idea of an afterlife and spiritual mediums in his later years, Houdini’s Will stated that his wife should hold a séance every Halloween after his death. In the Will he also gave 10 random words which were the words he would use to communicate with his wife from the other side during these séances. After his death, his wife Beth duly held a séance every year for 10 years, but then gave up on the basis Houdini never bothered to show up.
2) Gene Roddenberry
Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek certainly planned to “boldly go where no man has gone before” after his death. After his death in 1991, family discovered that his Will included instructions for a capsule containing his ashes to be carried into space in a rocket. His ashes were then to be scattered from a space satellite as it orbited earth. Things didn’t go according to plan but rumour has it another capsule with more ashes—including those of his wife—could well be making the same journey in the future.
3) Fred Baur
Fred Baur was the man behind the distinctive curve of the Pringles potato chip and the tubular can that carries them. Designs for which he received a patent and that are still going strong today. So, having dedicated so much of his creative power to the Pringle pot, it’s understandable he was reluctant to leave his creation behind. After he died in 2008, his Will instructed his family to bury some of him in a Pringles can, which they duly did. There really are so many things you can do with a Pringles can.
4) Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon crafted his Will on the remote island of St Helena where he had been imprisoned by the British. He made provision for many people including wounded troops and the families of those killed in battles like Waterloo. Bizarrely, he asked for his head to be shaved and divided amongst his friends. It’s recently been found that this hair contained large amounts of arsenic and his symptoms before his death were akin to arsenic poisoning. So if arsenic killed him, how? It was common for wall coatings to contain arsenic at the time, but it’s hard to rule out the possibility of his being slowly poisoned by the English.
5) Charles Vance Millar
Lawyers aren’t renowned for their wicked sense of humour but Charles Vance Millar from Toronto broke the mould. Through his Will he was able to keep his love of practical jokes alive long after his death in 1926.
In his Will, he set out a challenge for the women of Toronto, bequeathing a massive $500,000 to the one who could produce the most offspring in the decade after his death. In the end, there were four winning mums all tied with nine children delivered in the time set by Millar. True to the letter of the Will, they received $125,000 each.
6) Eleanor Ritchie
Granddaughter of Philip Bayer, the founder of the Quaker State Refining Corporation, Eleanor Ritchie left around $14 million to her brood of 150 stray dogs. Enraged relatives contested the Will but were unsuccessful and the dogs moved in to an antiseptic, modern clinic on a 180-acre ranch in Florida to live out their days in comfort. Each was tattooed to prove their membership in the original 150 and when the last of these dogs died, any money remaining was to be used to fund research on canine disease. Now that’s what you call a dog lover.
7) Dusty Springfield
Dusty Springfield, the dusky voiced singer behind such classics as “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Wishin’ and Hopin'” who died aged 59, made sure her cat was well taken care of in her Will. Amongst the long list of feline luxuries, 13 year old Nicholas was to be fed imported baby food; housed in a seven foot indoor tree house and serenaded to sleep each night with Dusty’s songs. The Will also arranged for Nicholas to marry her best friend’s cat, so he wasn’t lonely. Whether he actually liked the friend’s cat is unknown.
8) Mark Gruenwald
Mark Gruenwald was a lifetime lover of comics. As the editor of such classics as Captain America and Iron Man and many other Marvel Comics, he lived his dream every day. Not wanting the dream to end, he let it be known that his one desire was for his ashes to be used in a comic. So, after his death, that’s exactly what happened. Gruenwald’s ashes were mixed with the ink used for the first printing of Squadron Supreme.
9) Luis Carlos
Luis Carlos was a Portuguese aristocrat who died at just 42, unmarried, childless, and with no living relatives. Although rare in Portugal, Luis Carlos had made a Will so the state couldn’t get their hands on his estate. Instead, he chose 70 people at random from the Lisbon telephone book in front of two witnesses to inherit his properties, his car and his money. When the benefactors were informed, many assumed they were being scammed. Wouldn’t you?