8 of the Strangest Will Requests of All Time


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Nobody exactly enjoys the task of writing a will. In fact, data suggests that 68 percent of Americans don’t have a valid will. And while will-making is a serious business, sometimes they are, well…bizarre. Whether out of spite, a sense of humor, or sheer quirkiness, some people leave behind the strangest things in their wills.

We’ve compiled a list of eight strange bequests left in wills to offer a bit of inspiration or, at the very least, some entertainment.

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1. A daily rose

When legendary comedian Jack Benny died in 1974, he left behind a rather romantic stipulation in his will: a long-stemmed red rose every day to be delivered to his loving wife Mary Livingstone. “Every day since Jack has gone the florist has delivered one longstemmed red rose to my home,”  the widow revealed in the New York Times “I learned Jack actually had included a provision for the flowers in his will.”

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2. Napoleon Bonaparte’s hair

Now this may seem like a worthy auction item, but it was the French emperor himself who stipulated in his will that his hair should be distributed posthumously. Napoleon Bonaparte’s Last Will and Testament specifically directed that his head be shaved and his hair divided among his friends. In the will, he stated, “Marchand shall preserve my hair and make bracelets from it, each with a small gold clasp, to be sent to the Empress Maria Louisa, to my mother, and to each of my brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, the Cardinal, and a larger one for my son.”

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3. A donation ‘to clear the national debt’

In 1928, an anonymous, civic-minded donor left a bequest to Britain, a fund that has since grown to over $450 million. However, the donor’s specific instructions for the use of this money have made it inaccessible: it can only be used once it’s sufficient to pay off the entire national debt. With the current national debt in the UK towering at $3.17 trillion, this generous donation remains untouched, a vast sum just out of reach due to the conditions attached to it.

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4. A boozed-up weekend.

When Roger Brown was battling prostate cancer in 2013,  the odds were not in his favor, he made sure of one thing: his friends would raise a glass to him after he was gone.  The 67-year-old  left a secret bequest of $4,466 to seven of his closest friends, with the proviso that they use it for a boozy weekend away in a European city. And they stayed true to their word, after Brown lost the battle with cancer, his friends planned a trip to Berlin to toast in his name. “We would like to formally apologise to Roger’s two sons, Sam and Jack, for taking away some of their inheritance,” beneficiary Roger Rees told Express.co.uk after the friends spent a weekend in Berlin. “We spent most of it on beer, the rest we wasted.”

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5. A million flowering bulbs.

Keith Owen was not much of a spender, but upon learning he had terminal cancer in 2007, he chose to do something noble with the fortune he accumulated working as an investment banker. Born in Devon and migrated to Ottawa, Owen went to the native town of his mom, Sidmouth— and decided to leave nearly $4-million to the local conservation society. His only request: to plant a million flowers.  “Think outside the box. Plant a million bulbs,” Owen stipulated in his will.

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6. The ‘second-best bed.’

As if living in the shadow of one of the world’s greatest playwrights  wasn’t enough, William Shakespeare even snubbed his wife Anne Hathaway in his will, bequeathing her ‘the second best bed.’ The Bard left his estate and the majority of his money to his daughter Susanna.

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7. $14 million to 150 stray dogs

An heiress to the Quaker State Refining Corporation, Ritchey left an unusual legacy, bequeathing approximately $14 million to care for her 150 stray dogs. Her will stipulated that after the passing of the last dog, any remaining funds would be transferred to the Auburn University Research Foundation, specifically earmarked for research into canine diseases.

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8. A new husband.

German poet Heinrich “Henry” Heine used his will to make one final jab at his wife, Matilda. Heine left his estate to Matilda with a catch: she had to remarry, stating that this would ensure “at least one man to regret my death.” However, modern legal expert Nixon notes that such a joke might not hold up today. If Matilda chose to disregard Henry’s condition by not accepting his gift, she could inherit his entire estate without any strings attached, especially since Henry left no children. This change is due to a law that came into effect the year before Heine’s death, potentially rendering his last attempt at humor futile.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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