When a person dies they usually leave behind a will. The idea behind this practice is that in the throes of grief, family members shouldn’t have to squabble over who gets whatever the deceased happened to leave behind.
For the most part, what people leave in their final will and testaments is pretty straightforward. However, some people aren’t satisfied with being like everyone else. Check out how these 19 famous people raised eyebrows with their outrageous wills…
1. William Shakespeare: The legendary bard left his wife his “second best” bed. It’s not entirely clear why he wouldn’t simply leave her his absolute best bed (or why he had so many beds in the first place).
2. Leona Helmsley: This wealthy hotel owner who earned the nickname “the queen of mean,” left $12 million to her dog, Trouble, while only leaving $10 million to her brother and $5 million to her grandson.
3. Charles Dickens: The great author was rather particular about how his loved ones attended his funeral. His will forbid mourners from attending his funeral if they wore anything he considered “revolting absurdity,” including black bows, cloaks, or the most hideous articles of clothing of all… scarves.
4. Harry Houdini: The magician left his wife, Bess, a secret code that he claimed would allow her to contact him from beyond the grave. He died on Halloween, 1926, and Bess held seances every year on this spooky anniversary, but it never worked out.
5. Napoleon Bonaparte: This French leader was known for his fighting spirit and eccentric qualities, and in keeping with that reputation, he wanted his head to be shaved once he passed away, so his friends could share it evenly.
6. Gene Roddenberry: Remaining on-brand as the creator of Star Trek even in death, Roddenberry requested to be cremated and have his ashes sent into space. He passed away in 1991, but his request wasn’t fulfilled until 1997, thanks to a satellite orbiting Earth.
7. Phillip Seymour Hoffman: This actor disliked the idea of his children becoming “trust fund kids,” so he left his money to his girlfriend in his will. Stranger still, he asked for his son, Cooper, to be raised in three different cities: Chicago, San Francisco, and New York.
8. John B. Kelly: This athlete won the Olympic medal three times for rowing, and his daughter was actress Grace Kelly, who later became the Princess of Monaco. In his will, he asked that she “not bankrupt the Principality of Monaco with the bills about her clothing.”
9. Eleanor E. Ritchey: This heiress left $4.5 million to her dogs in 1968, which is definitely a lot, but then again, just consider the fact that this was distributed throughout all of her 150 dogs!
10. Fred Baur: The Pringles founder asked for his body to be cremated and stored in a Pringles can, and amazingly, his family actually honored his request! Don’t worry, you won’t find corpse-flavored chips anytime soon.
Mike mozart / Flickr
11. William Randolph Hearst: The mogul was uncomfortable with rumors that he had illegitimate children, and in an apparent attempt to dispute them in his will, he said that anyone who could prove to be his child would be given a grand total of $1.
12. Dusty Springfield: The legendary pop singer left a request in her will for her cat, Nicholas. It asked for him to be serenaded by her old records, given a special indoor treehouse, sleep alongside her old pillow and nightgown, and even be fed imported baby food. Perhaps the strangest part, though, was that she asked for him to “marry” a friend’s female cat.
13. Tupac Shakur: The West Coast rapper’s song “Black Jesus” seemed to serve as a will of sorts, as he expressed a desire in the song for his friends to smoke his ashes. Sure enough, after his mysterious passing, his friends gathered his ashes in a joint and smoked it!
14. Mickey Rooney: The silver screen idol had only $80,000 to his name when he passed away in 2014 (a relatively small amount considering his fame), and left none of it to his wife or children. They even failed an attempt to contest it.
15. Jeremy Bentham: One of the founders of utilitarianism, Bentham asked for his body to be preserved by stuffing it with hay and having it displayed at the University of London…
Dr. Thomas Smith, the executor of his will, obliged by doing it himself! Talk about customer service. It’s hard to know what to say about the man’s work… it’s very, lifelike?
16. George Bernard Shaw: He was one of the most celebrated playwrights of his generation, and when he died, he left money for the funding of a new alphabet which he wanted to have 40 letters and be phonetic.
17. Ed Headrick: The inventor of the frisbee toy, as well as frisbee golf, called the frisbee “a religion.” This might be why his request to have his ashes mixed into a special set of frisbees was fulfilled.
18. Mark Gruenwald: The beloved writer and editor of Marvel Comics asked that his ashes be mixed into printings of the trade paperback versions of his work.
19. Benjamin Franklin: The founding father used his will to ask his daughter Sarah to “not engage the expensive, vain and useless pastime of wearing jewels.” This had a lot to do with the fact that he left her a portrait frame with 408 jewels that he didn’t want her to remove, but she did it anyway!
Can you imagine how people reacted when they found out what these famous folks left behind? Sounds like they got the last laugh after all.
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