All too often people shy away from making their Will, either because they haven’t had the time to get around to it – not a great idea because time will always get around to you! Or because “it just seems a little scary” was one I heard recently. Not half as scary as your assets ending up in the wrong hands after a lifetime’s hard work I’d say.
Writing a Will isn’t just about listing who you want to leave something to, it’s a chance to leave a final thought or gesture to show the special ones in your life how much they meant to you. In the past, however, there are those that have been a little more imaginative and sought to add a little extra spice to their bequests.
Poet Heinrich Heine left his estate to his wife Matilda on the condition that she remarry. How thoughtful, except his Will stated that “there will be at least one man to regret my death”.
Maybe not the best place to leave an ever-lasting insult to your spouse, but I bet the Will drafter had a chuckle writing that clause.
Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara (just reading the name you know this is going to be wacky) left his substantial fortune to 70 strangers randomly chosen out of a Lisbon phone directory. Just priceless and isn’t it a shame that with the advent of the internet and 118 118 we are unlikely to see a clause like that again.
My favourite by far has to be Ernest Digweed (why oh why don’t we have names like that anymore?) who left money to Jesus and gave him 100 years to turn up to claim it. To date, those staking their claims haven’t been able to provide suitable ID confirming they really are J himself. With 59 years still to go if anyone knows of the big man’s whereabouts give me a call.
Whilst the above may be amusing it does raise the question about what a court might consider being reasonable and whether a gift could be successfully challenged, not to mention the cost of litigation and the emotional stress of untangling odd bequests.
Perhaps more sensible way to leave behind particular sentiments might be in a letter of wishes, which although stored with the Will, isn’t legally binding. That way you can still leave your loved ones with a reminder of your sense of humour, just without the risk of invalidating a gift or the entire Will itself.
If you have any funny Will stories you want to share, or maybe you want to run a request by me to see if it would work in your Will I’d love to hear from you.
The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and you should take full and comprehensive legal advice on your individual circumstances by a fully qualified Solicitor before you embark on any course of action.
Wills, Trusts and Probate team
0207 183 1485