When working with an elder law attorney to create your estate plan, the last will and testament often takes the forefront. Many people see a will as the entire estate plan. While this is not at all true – estate planning involves trusts, nursing home choices, elder care, and so much more – the will is certainly a pivotal part. When working with an estate planning attorney, make sure that you include every provision you can think of! Specificity is key, so make sure not to leave out any requests – no matter how strange they may seem. Even strange requests are important.
Just to prove this point, here is a list of some of the stranger wills around.
Born in 1874, Harry Houdini was the greatest illusionist of his time (maybe even of all time!) When he passed away in 1926, his will revealed an eccentric side. He left his extensive library of magic-themed books to the American Society for Psychological Research on the stipulation that the research officer must resign. He left the rabbits that were pulled out of hats to the children of his friends. Most bizarrely, he left a “secret code” (really just a series of ten random words) to his wife and explained he would use them to contact her from the afterlife. Regardless of the decade of annual séances his wife held, he never showed up!
Acting on the assumption that he and his family would be reincarnated, Vermont tanner John Bowman created a $500,000 trust fund in 1891 for the maintenance of his mansion. The will required that dinner be served every night in case they returned hungry. The nuance was carried out until 1950, when the trust fund ran out.
Rock and blues singer Janis Joplin was known for her heavy drinking and drug use, and died of an overdose in 1970. The strange part of the will was that she changed it just two days before her death. She decided to set aside a couple thousand dollars to pay for a party after her funeral for 200 guests at her favorite bar in California. Talk about a strange stipulation (and even stranger coincidence!)
If you have questions on the effectiveness of your will, or to start the estate planning process, contact contact us or arrange a free consultation with Massachusetts Nursing Home Attorney Adam Tobin.
Click here to read some more strange wills!