Strange Bequests

What can be bequeathed in a Will? Most of us are familiar with such bequests as property, jewellery, and money, but over the centuries, many unusual gifts and bequests have been left for heirs…

Virgil

The Roman poet requested his unfinished epic, the Aeneid, be burnt following his death. Thankfully, his friends managed to talk him out of destroying his well-known masterpiece.

Leona Helmsley

The hotel tycoon’s Will bequeathed most of her $5 billion dollar Estate to charity, but also created a $12 million dollar trust for her dog, Trouble. Two of her grandchildren sued the Estate, claiming Leona did not have capacity to create a Will and trust. The Estate settled, with Trouble receiving $2 million and the two grandchildren receiving $6 million.

Napoleon

In an unusual, yet somehow unsurprising, action, Napoleon requested his hair be shaved after death and distributed equally amongst his friends.

Robert Louis Stevenson

The author left his birthday to a friend in his Will. To be fair, the friend had mentioned she felt like she did not have a real birthday, since hers fell on Christmas Day.

Albert Orton

The 19th Century cobbler was aggrieved with his wife – reporting she was unsympathetic to his chronic flatulence. As a result, Albert left his wife just one farthing when he died in 1888. To leave his wife no doubt as to the insult he felt, Albert instructed in his Will that the farthing be mailed to his wife without postage – leaving his wife to pay postage, which in those days was four times the value of a farthing.