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13 craziest wills … and what to learn from them

Published On: Jul 25 2013 11:27:52 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 25 2013 11:29:34 AM CDT
will, legal papers, generic, estate planning

iStock/IuriiSokolov

By Ryan Woldoff, THELAW.TV

Every adult needs a will. Wills are documents, usually written by a lawyer, that dictate how your assets will be divided when you die. Wills are also used to decide funeral arrangements and to specify what happens to your young children after death. But, sometimes wills are also used to make bold or brash statements.

It's your last chance to tell the world how you really feel about someone -- by leaving them everything, nothing at all, or something odd. Here are some of the weirder wills that we were able to find.

13. Jack Benny: The American entertainment icon left a florist a large sum of money to send his wife a single long-stemmed red rose every day for the rest of her life. Before her death, she had received upward of 3,000 roses.

12. Napoleon Bonaparte: The French Emperor requested that his head should be shaved and the hair divided among friends. A recent analysis of some of the hair that was kept by his friends discovered large amounts of arsenic.

11. "Steady" Ed Headrick: The inventor of the frisbee was so enamored with his invention that he wished to be cremated and have his ashes molded into frisbees. Several were made, some of which were given to family members, while others were sold with the proceeds going toward the establishment of a "Steady" Ed Memorial Disc Golf Museum.

10. Mark Gruenwald: The executive editor of Marvel Comics was cremated after his death of a heart attack in 1996. His ashes were blended with ink used to print a 4,000-copy print run of the 12-issue miniseries he authored, "Squadron Supreme."

9. Countess Carlotta Liebenstein: The German Countess left her fortune to her dog, Gunter III, after her death in 1991. This allowed Gunter III and a puppy he later fathered to reside in their own mansion with $80 million from the Countess.

8. Jonathan Jackson: The animal lover left money for the creation of a cat house, where felines could enjoy bedrooms, a dining hall, exercise room, an auditorium to listen to a live accordionist, and a specially designed roof for climbing without risking any of their nine lives.

7. Fredric Baur: The chemist and inventor of freeze dried ice cream, as well as the infamous Pringles can, requested in his will that he be cremated and buried in a Pringles can in his grave. When he passed away in 2008, his children followed through with his request, but kept a portion of the ashes to be placed in an urn … inside a Pringles can.

6. Gene Roddenberry: After his death in 1991, the "Star Trek" creator's body was cremated and some of the ashes were brought aboard the space shuttle Columbia. In 1997, more of Roddenberry's ashes were launched into orbit via a Pegasus XL rocket. Another portion of Roddenberry's ashes, along with his late wife's, are planned for another departure into deep space in 2014.

5. George Bernard Shaw: The Nobel Prize and Oscar-winning Irish playwright left a large portion of his wealth toward funding the creation of a new alphabet. His wish was carried out and an edition of his play "Androcles and the Lion" was published using the 55-letter Shavian Alphabet.

4. Jeremy Bentham: The influential philosopher requested his body to be dissected in public as part of a lecture on anatomy. His skeleton was then to be stuffed with hay and dressed in his clothes and his head preserved to be kept in public display at the University College London. His head has since been replaced with a wax replica.

3. Charles Vance Millar: The Canadian lawyer and investor who was known for having a good sense of humor left a vacation house in Jamaica in joint custody of three people that he knew hated each other. The final clause of his will also stated the cash value of his estate would be given to the woman who gave birth to the most children in a 10-year span.

2. Solomon Sandborn: After his death in 1871, the Massachusetts hat maker's will was discovered to have the request that the skin from his body be used to make two drums, one of which was to have the Declaration of Independence written on it, the other with the Pope's Universal Prayer. The drums were to be given to his friend Warren Simpson, who was to play "Yankee Doodle" at sunrise each June 17th at Bunker Hill.

1. T.M. Zink: The Iowa attorney left his daughter $5 and his wife absolutely nothing. He stipulated in his will that his $35,000 be placed in a trust for 75 years, and the accumulated sum should be used to build the "Zink Womanless Library," with no works by female authors or artists, and all entrances would house the sign "No Women Allowed." Zink's daughter successfully contested the will and the library was never built.