5 Strange Things Left in Wills
When a person draws up a will, there are many things to consider. Who will they leave things to? How will they allocate their money and possessions? Do they want to leave anything to a charity or favorite organization? Sometimes people have weird stuff, I mean really weird stuff, that they bequeath to others. Check out these five things that I am certain were surprises to those who received them, in some cases complete strangers.
Cash for Having Children
Charles Vance Millar passed away in 1926. In his professional life he was a Canadian lawyer and an investor. In his personal life he was known as a prankster with a great sense of humor. In his will, he left a vacation house in Jamaica under joint custody of three people he knew hated each other. However, the most well known part of Millar’s will is the part where he directed that the cash value of his sizable estate would be given to the woman that birthed the largest number of children over a ten year period. This set in motion a frenzy known as “The Great Stork Derby” in which a handful of Canadian women tried to win Millar’s “contest”. The Canadian court system attempted to strike the clause from his will, but since Millar was a lawyer, he had made the clause untouchable and the show went on. Four women who each birthed nine children shared the money, each taking home about $125,000.
To My Favorite Actor
Most people have a celebrity they admire or look up to, but not everyone puts a celebrity they have never even met in their will. That’s exactly what Audrey Knauer did when she passed away in 1997. Knauer left $300,000 to actor Charles Bronson, who actually accepted $150,000 of it! He did donate that money to charity, but Knauer’s family was left nothing. She stipulated in her will that any of the $300,000 that Bronson would not accept was to be donated to a local library.
Dinner for Ghosts?
Before John Bowman passed away in 1891, he apparently believed that he would be reincarnated and reunited with his already deceased wife and two daughters. How do we know this? In his will, Bowman set aside $50,000 (it was a lot back then!) to maintain his mansion so that it would always be ready for the time when he reappeared with his wife and daughters. Among the things the $50,000 was to be used for was preparation of a nightly meal for four. Servants were paid to stay on staff, prepare and serve a meal that would never be eaten, then clean it up. Nightly dinners were served for no one for over 50 years before Bowman’s money ran out.
A man named T.M Zink (deceased 1930) was an Iowa attorney who did quite well for himself, so much so that in his will he ordered that $100,000 of his money be placed in a trust in which the principal could not be taken or used for a period of 75 years. In spite of the fact that Mr. Zink had married and even had a daughter, he harbored a supreme dislike for the fairer sex. He wanted his trust money to be used to build a library, but not a normal library. Zink wanted to create a library containing no books by women authors, no references to any women, and no artwork or furniture created by women. He even wanted a sign on the front of the library indicating that no women were allowed inside. To add insult to injury, Zink left five dollars to his daughter and nothing at all to his wife. His daughter fought the idea in court and eventually won the money.
Solomon Sandborn was a hat maker in Medford, Massachusetts. After his death in 1871, his will was discovered to contain a most odd request – that skin from his body be used to make two drums. The drums were to be given to his friend Warren Simpson. On one of the drums was to be written the Declaration of Independence, and on the other drum the Pope’s Universal Prayer. Then Sandborn set forth that at sunrise each June 17th, Simpson was to go to Bunker Hill and play “Yankee Doodle” on the skin drums to commemorate the anniversary of the battle that took place there during the revolutionary war. It is unclear if this request was ever carried out.