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8 Unusual Ways to Use Your Last Will and Testament

Certain conditions you put on gifts in your last will and testament might not be enforceable in court. Illegal conditions on gifts on grounds of public policy include:

  • requiring a recipient to marry a specific person,
  • requiring a recipient to divorce,
  • requiring a recipient to change religion, and
  • requiring a recipient to perform an illegal act.

For Example...

If a will said “I leave $40,000 to my daughter Kate on the condition that she marries Michael,” that provision would be struck by the court because courts cannot force people to marry those they don’t want to marry.

So how far can a court go to enforce other types of conditions and provisions in a will? Believe it or not, courts will go pretty far! The following are some unusual uses for your will you probably haven’t considered.

Getting Sympathy

The poet Heinrich Heine gifted all his property to his wife upon one condition: she had to remarry after his death. You might ask, why? His wife was known to be boring, uneducated, and incredibly vain. In explanation, he stated, "because then there will be at least one man who will regret my death."

Getting Even

Samuel Bratt’s wife never allowed him to smoke his favorite cigars. To get even in his will he left her $550,000 on the condition that she had to smoke five of the cigars every day. How’s that for revenge?

Making Sure Dinner Is Ready

Apparently, John Bowman, the popular Irish TV broadcaster, believed that his entire family would be reincarnated together when he died. Therefore, according to the terms of his last will, dinner was prepared for him and his family every night after he died in case they should all return.

Building a House Just for Cats

An animal lover named Jonathan Jackson required in his will that part of his fortune be used to construct a house just for cats, complete with a dining hall, an auditorium for the cats to listen to accordion music, and a special roof for them to play on without endangering any of their nine lives.

Throwing a Monster Party

The famous rock and blues singer Janis Joplin changed her will right before her death to give $2,500 to some of her friends on the condition that they spend it on an epic party at her favorite bar in San Anselmo, California. Rock on!

Scattering Your Ashes in Orbit

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek and the famous quote “to boldly go where no man has gone before,” purportedly instructed that his ashes be scattered in outer space. In 1997, this was indeed carried out via a satellite orbiting earth.

Speaking with the Dead

The escape artist Harry Houdini gave his wife a secret list of 10 random words and told her to hold annual séances so that he could prove whether or not it was possible to speak with the dead. His wife held these séances every Halloween for 10 years during which time she never heard one peep from dear Harry.

Creating a Ridiculous Competition

Charles Vance Miller, a Toronto attorney and lover of practical jokes, promised $500,000 in his will to whichever Toronto woman birthed the most children within the 10 years following this death. The contest was coined “The Great Stork Derby,” and four ladies won in a tie. Each lady had bore nine children, and they received $125,000 a piece.

So Think about It…

At the very least, these unusual will provisions ensured that their makers would be well remembered. Want to go down in history for your own funny or eccentric will? Use our last will and testament form to give you the flexibility you need to ensure all your wildest wishes are honored after you’re gone!