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By Lane Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Probate is the process where a person’s last will and testament, and all the instructions that are contained therein, are carried out by the person who is appointed as the personal representative or executor. Because the world is full of interesting people, there are usually interesting stories about things that happened during probate or things that are written into a last will and testament. After 20 years of working as an Idaho estate planning attorney I have come across and have collected some of these interesting stories.

The following comes from an internet story posted on June 3, 2009, by Marge Floori with the Weekly World News.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

1. Henry Durrell

Unable to make up his mind about which of his three deserving nephews to make his heir, Henry Durrell allowed fate to decide the matter. In his will he stipulated that the choice should be made by a throw of the dice. On March 15, 1921, the three young men got together at their late uncle’s estate in Bermuda to carry out the terms of the unusual will. A pair of dice was passed around among them and minutes later Richard Durrell emerged as the new owner of the palatial estate, the showplace of Bermuda on the shore of Hamilton Harbor.

2. Chleo Newman

Was a woman who jotted down her will on the back of an envelope before starting off on an airplane trip in 1947. She wrote it in an airport restaurant before taking off, which was witnessed by a waitress, because “she had a premonition of disaster.” The plane crashed over West Virginia, killing 18 passengers, including Mrs. Newman.

3. George Harriss

Among hundreds of volumes of wills filed at the Surrogate Court in the District of Kerrobert, Canada, sits an unlikely “document” – a fender cut from a farm tractor. Its presence is explained by an accident that occurred on the afternoon of June 8, 1948, when George Harris was pinned by a tractor. Harris’ hands were free but the lower part of his leg was caught and bleeding profusely. He was found nine hours later and rushed to the hospital, where he died shortly after. One of the men examining the accident site a few days later noticed some writing scratched on the fender of Harris’ tractor. It read: In case I die in this mess, I leave all to the wife. – Cecil George Harris. The fender was removed from the tractor, admitted to probate and filed with the registrar of wills as the Last Will and Testament of George Harris.

4. James Kidd

Mr. Kidd was an Arizona copper miner and prospector who went missing in 1949. However, he was not declared dead until 1954, his unclaimed safety deposit box remained unopened until 1957, and his assets were not dealt with until 1964. But it was soon discovered that he had left a substantial amount of money, $174,065.69, and a will that stated that the money should go “in a research or some scientific proof of a soul of the human body which leaves at death I think in time their can be a Photograph of soul leaving the human at death”. Over a hundred petitions filled the court, claiming that the person or organization had proof of the human soul. In 1971, the money was finally split between the American Society for Psychical Research (two-thirds share) and the Psychical Research Foundation (one-third share).

5. Abdel Nahas

Was a wealthy man who left $2 million to a dead mouse when he died in 1979. Residing in Cairo, Egypt, had his beloved pet mouse mummified in 1978. Although family members were unhappy with the will they were bound by law to carry out his last wish.

The original story can be read at:


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 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.


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