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By, Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Having been an estate planning attorney now for nearly 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of different individuals and creating their personal estate plans. Sometimes I have clients who want to do some interesting things with their last will and testament. I will say however I have not yet had anybody come to me with any of what I would call crazy ideas.

Having said that, my research recently led me to an article that was published by The Guardian in August of 2015. This article listed what it called Ten of the Strangest Wills of All Time. Here are a few of the entries that were listed in this article:

Comedian Jack Benny

Legendary US comedian Jack Benny left an unusual but touching instruction in his will when he died in 1974. “Every day since Jack has gone the florist has delivered one long-stemmed red rose to my home,” his widow Mary Livingstone wrote in a magazine, shortly after his death. “I learned Jack actually had included a provision for the flowers in his will. One red rose to be delivered to me every day for the rest of my life.”

A Donation to Clear the National Debt

A public-spirited donor made a half-million pound bequest to Britain back in 1928, which is now worth more than £350m. Unfortunately, the anonymous donor was very specific about how the money should be spent: it should only be passed on once it is enough to clear the entire national debt. Sadly, the total national debt currently stands at £1.5tn so as a result, the country can’t touch the money.

The Rich Dog

In 2004, billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley left instructions for her $4bn (£2.5bn) fortune to be spent caring for dogs, having apparently re-thought an earlier draft that left it to the poor. Her nine-year-old Maltese, Trouble, received $12m (£8m) in the will, with her grandchildren either cut out or ordered to visit their father’s grave annually in order to inherit their share.  Trouble’s inheritance was later cut to just $2m (£1.2m) by a judge, although the dog still needed to go into hiding amid death and kidnap threats.

I Bequeath You a New Husband

For some embittered spouses a last will and testament is actually a last chance to insult their life partner one more time. So it was for German poet Heinrich “Henry” Heine who left his estate to his wife, Matilda, in 1856 on the condition that she remarry, so that “there will be at least one man to regret my death”.

A Bitter Old Man

Michigan millionaire Wellington Burt used his will to put his enormous wealth out of reach of his family for almost a full century. When he died in 1919, his will was discovered to specify that his vast fortune would not be passed on until 21 years after the death of his last surviving grandchild. She died in 1989 and the 21-year countdown ended on November 2010. About 12 people discovered they were beneficiaries of the strange will, described as a “legacy of bitterness”, and they shared a fortune estimated to be worth $110m.

70 Strangers

It’s the stuff of daydreams and film scripts. When Portuguese aristocrat Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara wrote up his will, he left his considerable fortune to 70 strangers randomly chosen out of a Lisbon phone directory. “I thought it was some kind of cruel joke,” a 70-year-old heiress told Portugal’s Sol newspaper. “I’d never heard of the man.

While we don’t suggest you use your Last Will and Testament as a way of being funny, or getting revenge on your family or other loved ones, you can use your Will to help you family and loved ones in many ways. We are confident that we could help guide you in this process.


If you do not have an estate plan in place, we can help. When it comes to estate planning or probate you should never try to do it alone. If you have questions for yourself or for your family and loved ones, call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

If you are interested the link below will take you to the full article published by The Guardian.

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