Deciding how to divide your assets among those you love can be an awfully hard decision to make, but it turns out that how to divide things among those who annoyed you is a lot of fun!
Here are some of the most absurd things lawyers and family members have found in people's wills.
Many thanks to all the Redditors who responded. Check out more answers from the source at the end of this article!
1. Gotta look good!
Upon her death we read the will of a my grandma, a very serious lady, that she had to be wearing a push-up bra if there was an open casket.
2. That's not how it works, dude.
Had a guy be extremely charitable when we were drafting his will. Million to his church, two million to a local hospital, another two million to the American Heart Association.
When we gave him a quote on how much it cost to draft the will (it wasn't much because it was a rather straight forward document), he asked for a payment plan. He couldn't afford the will.
Dude had no money.
He thought you could just leave money to people/organizations and the government would foot the bill. He was also the sort that became visibly angry talking about welfare and government "hand-outs," which made his thinking even funnier to me.
I am indeed a lawyer, and this happened this week: client wanted to cremate her alive and healthy, animals when she passed away.
I remember reading about a fellow who wrote "And to (person X) I leave 50 cents, with which he should buy a good, stout rope to hang himself with, and thus rid the world of his wretched existence."
5. I love these stories.
A good friend of mine looked after this old lady. She was his neighbor and as far as he knew she had no family. So every day he was at her place when he wasn't working. I met her a few times, sweet old lady. She had 3 cats that were here babies. Spoiled them to no end. Had a "cat room" for them with 3 separate beds and 3 separate litter boxes, bowls, ect... Well one day after looking after her for a few years he walks in to find she passed in her sleep.
Later he finds she named him in her will. He gets to the reading to find 3 20 something ladies there too. Finds out they are her daughters. Turns out the lady had moved across the country unannounced a few years earlier and disappeared from the daughters' lives.
The old woman left my buddy 19. Million. Dollars. She left the cats to a lifelong friend from her home state. Donated all her belongings to Salvation Army. Left her daughters each "A single litter box and all of its contents." Along with each a single $20 bill to "Give them each a last taste of all she was to them."
Sweet old lady is my hero.
6. Work on your technique, Bobby.
My professor just said that he had someone in the early 80's that left his three sons and grandsons his extensive baseball card collection. It seemed normal when my professor first heard of it but then he was a handed a handwritten chart that had several hundred cards listed with the name of the recipient and why that person was getting the card. "I leave this pitcher to Bobby because Bobby can't throw worth a darn."
7. This is how I wanna go.
Did a few pro bono wills up on the reservation. This big guy asks me to give everything back to the tribe because he has no living immediate family. No problem.
Then he has one exception: his Vietnam era motorcycle. Said it was the first thing he bought after getting home. Wants to be buried with it. I should clarify, not with it, literally on it and in riding position. I helped him set aside the funds necessary to do it and have a lot prepaid for. Dude was awesome!
8. What does it mean!!???
A client had two sons. He left a whole bunch of specific distributions to one of the sons--his truck, gun collection, etc.
To the other son he specifically left one thing--a poster of himself in high school.
No idea if there was some significance/sentimental value behind the poster or if it was more of a "look at what I'm giving your brother--and here's a poster of me so you will never forget that I loved you less."
9. What a genius prankster.
In law school I once read about the Great Stork Derby.
An eccentric wealthy Toronto businessman and lawyer in the 20s left the bulk of his estate to the woman who could have the most kids in the decade following his death. The courts upheld the clause and eventually 4 women split the inheritance with 9 kids each.
He also left a bunch of other weird terms including a vacation home in Jamaica to 3 people who hated each other under the terms that they had to live in the estate indefinitely and brewery stocks to teetotaling ministers if they participated in its management.
10. "FOR REASONS THAT ARE KNOWN TO THEM."
I read about a New York heiress who died in her 90's and named her 2 grandchildren in her will, meaning they showed up for the reading. Actually what was written in her will was "and to my grandchildren X and Y I leave nothing, for reasons that are known to them."
FOR REASONS THAT ARE KNOWN TO THEM.
11. Clownin' around...
Apparently there was this rich old lady (ROL from here on out), and her family had been waiting for her to die for a bunch of years so they could get her money. Real stuck up people, and ROL hated them. But I guess she either didn't have anyone else to leave her money to, or she figured that her awful family would contest the will if everything wasn't left to them.
Knowing how status-conscious these relatives are, ROL decided, "Fine, they can have the stupid money, but I'm gonna make them suffer for it."
So when ROL finally passes away, her lawyer approaches the family with her instructions for how her funeral is to be run. According to ROL's will, the only way they get the money is if they follow these instructions to the letter. I don't remember all the absurd details in her instructions (been a few years since I heard the story), except for the pice de rsistance:
ROL required an open-casket funeral, with all family members in attendance, and demanded that her corpse be dressed up like Bozo the Clown. Makeup, red nose, wild hair, massive shoes, the works.
The family tried to protest, but ROL's lawyer had tied this thing up beautifully. Perfectly ironclad. They either attended the Bozo the Clown funeral, or they don't get a dime... So they did it. These stuck up people had to stand there for hours, glowering, taking weird looks from all their friends & neighbors as people got close to the casket and realized ROL was dressed like a clown.
According to funeral parlor employee (who had dressed ROL and applied the makeup), the best part of the service came when they tried to shut the casket... and couldn't, because the massive shoes got in the way. They had to bend these 24-inch shoes in half to get the lid closed.
I never had the honor of meeting the brilliant, cantankerous old lady, but she's one of my biggest heroes.
12. So do you collect it beforehand or?
Once saw a guy leave to his estranged son "the sweat from my balls."
13. Good for her!
My significant other's father was a lawyer and he always said his favorite story was of this old money lady he knew of. She was worth around 15 mil and had five kids, one of whom married a horrible man, who would spout just the foulest stuff against anyone that wasn't a white, rich, able bodied, christian male. When she died each child got 3 million, except for the jerk's wife. She donated that money to things like HBCU's, Planned Parenthood, food banks, etc, because 'you both deserve to die penniless and hating each other for being awful human beings.'
14. They'll have full run of the place...
Filthy rich man was the owner of two pet ferrets at the time of his death. He loved these ferrets, and wanted to ensure that these ferrets were taken care of when he passed, so informed his sons that the ferrets were to receive all. of. his. property.
15. This is so elaborate... I love it!
My mom works for rich people. The worst will she ever told me about was this old guy who was close to 90. He wanted it so that when he dies, all of his millions will go into a trust for his kids and his kids will never be able to touch it, but they can collect the interest it generates.
So he had my mom set him up with this group of accountants who will manage the trust, and he specifically arranged a plan with them to manage the account in such a way that their yearly billing will almost exactly match the interest to be made. So when he dies his kids will inherit millions but will only be able to spend like 35 dollars a year from it. 35 dollars that the kids have to split between them.
16. They'll love it in 15.5 years...
54 year old, very wealthy, no children, not married.
Left his 6 month old (at the time of drafting) nephew a 1980 Lamborghini Countach LP4000 S.
Had no idea, had to google it. It is expensive.
17. She made her choice...
My mom had her will updated to say that if me or my brother announce her death on Facebook then we are out of it. It sounds kind of harsh but me and my brother think it is hilarious. She did it because she doesn't give a crap about Facebook but all her friends do and they keep pestering her to get one.
18. Take this dollar and put it where the sun don't shine.
My grandpa left one dollar to my (piece of crap, thief of a) dad with the instructions "to shove up his butt". I haven't personally seen the will so I don't know if this is true or not but he was a WWII vet and total hero, so I believe it 100%.
19. I wonder who they are.
We once had a guy who wanted to leave all of his money to two actresses from his favourite TV show.
20. Look, I'm on TV!
My mom is in probate law.
A older woman had many requests, including changing the people in her will several times a month, adding and subtracting certain family members she had a falling out with. However, her funniest request was that the entire family be called to the law firm and the will be read aloud like on TV. I can only imagine her watching her afterlife like a soap opera.
21. A loaf of bread?
My Dad teases my brother and I that his will has a stipulation that he be cremated and his ashes baked into a loaf of bread and that my brother and I have to eat said loaf of bread to qualify for any inheritance. The scary thing is my Dad is a lawyer...... who writes wills.
22. Neighbor needs to reevaluate their life.
I once had a guy leave a box of used condoms for his neighbor of 13 years. Neighbor found it funny.
23. And whoever else shows up...
I have two younger siblings. but my parents haven't altered their will in a long time. So it reads:
"all assets shall be divided up between Nik_Tesla, Nicole_Tesla, and any other children we may have."
So we poke fun at my youngest sister for just being "any other children we may have."
Also, I'm the only son, of an only son, of an only son, of an only son. So my grandfather put in his will that I was to get $1000 for every child that bore my last name (legitimate or not). I was six at the time.
24. The secret is organic cinnamon.
My grandpa originally had just two grandkids, my brother (17) and I (22). He has a collection of nice cars. Originally, I was getting his two corvettes and my brother was getting his Cadillac and a race car. Well, my aunt and uncle finally coughed up some kids, and my mom is about to have another baby, so now there's 8 grandkids. He's announced that he will be having a contest for the cars. The contest is to make him an apple pie that tastes just like his mother's.
25. He loved his guns.
My uncle wanted to:
1: Be cremated
2: Mix the ashes into gunpowder
3: The gunpowder put into bullets
4: Have the bullets shot in the general direction of his homeland (in asia)
5: The other half distributed with a lottery system based on which people listed in his will have the most guns
6: Most of his money given to the bearers of the bullets
7: The bullets must be fired within a year or we lost the money
Yea, he liked guns.
26. This would be a hard choice to make... or not...
Favourite has to be the woman who had fallen out massively with her daughter because she hated the husband that the daughter had chosen. This feud went on for years to the point where they never had any contact, and whenever they did things would just get pretty ugly, with the daughter refusing to leave the husband and the mother demanding that she did.
So when the time came to read the will it turned out that the mother had left a good portion of money to the daughter (10/20% of the sizeable estate (there were 3 or 4 children)), on the sole condition that the daughter change her surname and her children's surname back to her maiden name, effectively removing this hated husband's name/significance on their family tree.
By the sounds of it this was a real sticking point for the daughter and (I was at the law firm whilst this whole saga was going on) the solicitors were pretty confident that the daughter was going to forsake her inheritance (which was a pretty large one) in order to keep her husband's name.
27. You get a penny.
It's not that uncommon for people in the UK to leave 'secret gifts' to somebody they hate just so they get all excited and waste their time driving down to see what they got.
A penny. You got a penny.
28. Who gets which elephants again?
Not a lawyer, but a law clerk (I draft the wills).
My personal favourite bequest was "Elephants go to the grandchildren, largest to smallest". Do the largest elephants go to the largest grandchildren? Also, are these real elephants or elephant statues or something? I'm still not really sure what they meant by that.
29. This is one way to make your ex angry.
This guy's will wasn't notable, but his medical power of attorney (gives someone the power to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable) got pretty interesting. He wanted to instruct his agent to arrange a "lesbian sex show" for his viewing pleasure on his deathbed.
I told him it probably wouldn't be enforceable and instead wrote a provision requesting (but not requiring) that the agent arrange for exotic dancers to perform for him, but no sex or other physical contact. He eventually changed his mind about the whole thing. He had just divorced his wife and I think he merely wanted to piss her off, knowing that she would probably see it.