When someone dies, usually that person’s Last Will and Testament leaves important, precious items to special people in their lives. This might include land, money, jewelry, or items of personal significance to the benefactor or to the beneficiary. Some items that have been left in wills, however, are quite odd, no matter how you look at it. Other times, odd requests by the deceased are communicated to the living in the will. Here are some of the strangest, weirdest things that have ever been left to anyone via a Last Will and Testament.
1. I request that you hold a yearly séance
When escape artist Harry Houdini died on October 31, 1926 (Halloween, coincidentally), he made an odd request in his Last Will and Testament. Houdini had been studying the idea of an afterlife and communication after death just prior to his own death, and became intrigued by the idea of séances. He even promised his wife that he would contact her after death using a preplanned secret message that only the two of them would know. Although she never reported receiving such a message, Houdini’s Last Will and Testament did state that a séance was to be held each year on October 31, on the anniversary of his death.
2. I leave this money for procreation purposes
An attorney from Toronto, Charles Vance Miller, made a strange bequeath in his will when he died in 1926. The will offered a large amount of money to a woman in Toronto who could produce the most children in the ten years following his death. It was called the “Great Stork Derby.” Four women each produced nine children during the decade after Miller’s death, and each of the women received $125,000.
3. I want to float in space after my death
“Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry , who died in 1991, always had a love of and fascination by space. In his Last Will and Testament, Roddenberry specified that he wanted his ashes to be scattered by a space satellite orbiting the Earth. This request was carried out six years later, in 1997, when Roddenberry’s ashes finally were able “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
4. I leave to my pets large sums of money
An heiress of the large Quaker State Refining Corporation, Eleanor Ritchey, passed away in 1968. In her Last Will and Testament, it was stated that she intended for $4.5 million to go to her 150 stray dogs. Because her family contested the will, the dogs got $9 million, which, with interest, grew to $14 million while the case was in dispute). After the last of the dogs died in 1984, the remainder of the money went to Auburn University Research Foundation towards research on canine disease.
5. I leave to my pets large sums of money and place demands on my grandchildren
Billionaire real estate investor and hotel owner Leona Helmsley, who died in 2007, left her Maltese dog named Trouble a $12 million trust fund upon her death. A year later, a judge reduced the amount to $2 million. Another interesting side note in Helmsley’s will was that, although she had four grandchildren, she left money to only two of them, $5 million in trust and $5 million in cash. The condition of this bequeath was that the grandchildren had to visit their father’s grave once every year in order to collect on their bequest.
6. I leave all of my estate to my feng shui master
Nina Wang, who was once known as the richest woman in Asia, died in 2007 and left her $4 billion estate to her feng shui master, Tony Chan Chun Chuen. It was said that Wang chose Chan because he understood her personal and business philosophy. After a lengthy court battle between Wang’s charitable foundation, Chinachem Charitable Foundation and Chan, it was ruled that the so-called will was a fake forged by Chan and never signed by Wang. Her entire estate instead was awarded to her charity.
7. I leave you my hair
French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte, who died in 1821, made a strange request in his will. Upon his death, he instructed that his head was to be shaved and his hair to be distributed among his friends. This is strangely interesting also because one of the theorized causes of Bonaparte’s death was arsenic poisoning, which can be detected through studying hair shafts.
8. I want my ashes to be mixed with comic book ink
Marvel Comics executive Mark Gruenwald was truly dedicated to his art. The editor of Captain America and Iron Man, who died of a heart attack in 1996, made an interesting request in his will. He wished that his ashes would be mixed with comic book ink and used to print comic books. Gruenwald’s bequest was followed to the letter.
9. I want to be buried in a Pringles’ can
The founder of the cylindrical Pringles’ can, Fred Baur, died in 2008, at which time a strange request was found in his Last Will and Testament. He wanted part of his ashes, after cremation, to be buried in a Pringles’ can. His family followed his wishes, burying the can containing part of Baur’s ashes with the rest of him.
10. I direct that you maintain my mansion and make dinner nightly for my comeback
John Bowman, a millionaire from Vermont, died in 1891, after his wife and two daughters had passed away. Bowman, who believed strongly in reincarnation, instructed in his Last Will and Testament that his 21-room mansion should be maintained through an amount of money specifically designated for that purpose. In the bequest, it was also specified that dinner must be prepared every night in case the family came back. This request was carried out until the money ran out in 1950. Sadly, the family had not yet returned to Earth at that time.