The term “last will and testament” seems to have a somber, legal, and even boring tone, however, these famous people used their unusual Wills to make one final point or just to give their loved ones a chuckle. In life, these were unique individuals. Their Wills were no different.
1.) “Burn it!” said this philosopher who died in 10 B.C. His last wish was to burn the ‘Aeneid’, once the national poem of Rome, because, unlike the famous Homer, his works were unfinished and he only completed 12 of the 24 books. His friends finally convinced him to change his will and the national treasure was saved and published with historic acclaim.
2.) “Leave her the second best bed,” said this famous poet who died in 1616 and left his wife, Anne Hathaway, the odd bequeath of the bed. A good bed at the time was very rare and expensive, so his wish wasn’t so odd in that respect, however, the fact that it was to be the second best bed and that this specific wish was tacked on to the back of the will as an afterthought, made many question their relationship.
3.) Do not to engage in “the expensive, vain and useless pastime of wearing jewels.” These were the last wishes of this gentlemanly statesman for his daughter which were expressed in his will. He did not seem to have a true aversion to the wearing of jewels, but many speculated that he insisted on that language to prevent his daughter from removing the 408 diamonds encrusted in a framed portrait that King Louis XVI of France gave to him during his ambassadorship.
4.) “Shave it and divide it,” was the wish of this ruler upon his death in 1821. He was talking about the hair on his head that was to be divided up between his friends. In a strange twist, the hair was tested and appeared to have large amounts of arsenic, which many believed to be concentrated in the walls of his bedroom, which was common at the time, but another popular theory was that the English were slowly poisoning him.
5.) Mourners “who attend my funeral wear no scarf, cloak, black bow, long hatband, or other such revolting absurdity,” this famous author wrote in his last will and testament in 1870. He also requested to have a private, inexpensive, plain funeral. His wishes, however, were not abided by as his funeral ended up being a grand event and made national news. Used to getting his way in life, he did not get what he wanted in death.
6.) That “dinner was to be prepared nightly,” requested this father in 1891, in the event that he and his family come back to life. His two daughters and wife died before him and he was so convinced his family would be together again he set up a trust with $50,000 to be used to keep up his 21 room mansion and prepare dinner nightly. This continued until 1950 when the money ran out. They never reappeared, as far as anyone knew.
7.) “The clothing bills of my daughter, Princess Grace, may not bankrupt the principality of Monaco,” said this man in 1960 who was an Olympian and self-made multimillionaire whose daughter married the Prince of Monaco. He left nothing to his royal son in law, stating that he was confident he could provide for her on his own, but what he is able to give to his daughters, “will help pay the dress shop bills, which if they continue as they started out, under the able tutelage of their mother, will be quite considerable.”
Many provisions in wills can be legally enforced and some are only “wishes” or simply requests. It is important to seek legal advice to determine what can be enforced in a will and what type of legal vehicle is the best accomplish a last will and testament.
Here are the names of the famous people who wrote these wishes in their Wills. How many did you get right? 1.) Virgil 2.) William Shakespeare 3.) Benjamin Franklin 4.) Napoleon Bonaparte 5.) Charles Dickens 6.) John Bowman 7.) John B. Kelly
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