Lawyers Share The Weirdest Things People Have Put In Their Wills

Last will and testament paperwork
Unsplash | Melinda Gimpel

Wills can be tricky business. They represent the final wishes of a recently deceased person, and, even though they're legally binding, there's no real limit to how wacky they can get.

Many of us are inheriting a bunch of debt and an uncertain future. If you'd like to hear about inheritances that are less bleak, or at least more interesting, head on over to this r/AskReddit thread on the topic.

Handled with grace.

A stack of $100 US bills
Unsplash | Giorgio Trovato

"My grandfather left me $1.00, he had dementia and confused my dad ripping him off with me. He left the rest of the family between $100,000 and a few million each. They all said they felt horrible because they knew the details, but not horrible enough to give up any of their share. The way I see it is it was never my money to begin with, so it's not a loss. I'm just glad my sister got a hundred thousand, she needed it more than any of the others."


Toxic in life and toxic in death.

A scale for measuring weight
Unsplash | Graphic Node

"Saw this answer from a similar question some time ago. When a dad died he set up financial installments so long as his daughter remains under a certain weight. Dude was controlling her diet from the grave."


If I'm dying, my horse is dying too.

A brown horse
Unsplash | Silje Midtgård

"I work in probate. The oddest thing I’ve seen in a will is to euthanize their beloved horse, have it cremated and its ashes scattered with the decedent. Lucky for her horse, she named a horse that was already dead so the one she got afterwards lived to see another farm."


Can you contest that in court?

Person filling out paperwork
Unsplash | Scott Graham

"Had a friend who had a toxic relationship with his uncle. When his uncle passed he was surprised to find he was in the will. Turns out there was a handwritten IOU that read 'I’m leaving you 15k BUT you have to come get it from me. I’ll see you in hell!' My friend laughed."


Well, so long as it gave you a place to stay.

A white house with red metal roof
Unsplash | Jacques Bopp

"My old landlord took 2 years to boot me out because her mother who owned the place died and she wanted to sell the place. But her mother's carer said the mother verbally promised the house to her. Even though it was not written in the will it still took 2 years of fighting in court to clear things up. No, the carer didn't get it in the end even after all the appeals."


This might encourage more people to make wills.

A coffin inside a funeral home
Unsplash | The Good Funeral Guide

"I (early 20s) was forced to write a will due to the health insurance i get at work, and, amongst sensible stuff, the in-house lawyer said it was totally okay for this clause to be added:

'My funeral wishes are that i be buried in a coffin which has been springloaded, such that opening the coffin would cause alarm to future archeologists.'"


Doesn't matter, got Toblerone.

An opened Toblerone bar
Unsplash | Safwan C K

"Not a lawyer but my grandpa put in his will a chocolate bar for everyone one of his grand kids. Well I have like 12 cousins and very difficult to track down where a couple of them went. All this estates and money he had in will was at a stand still for months because they couldn’t find my couple cousins. Had to show court we put in effort to hire someone to track them down etc. The lawyer that was helping execute the Will was blown away that this lawyer allowed this and why he wouldn’t highly suggest not to do it. But I’m not complaining cause I got a Toblerone out of the deal!"


Well, at least you get the house.

A stately country mansion
Unsplash | Fabian Wiktor

"I’m the executor of my grandmother’s will. I also get the house and everything in it and a share of life insurance that’s split three ways between myself, sister, and mom. My mom has always said that all my dad, my grandmothers son-in-law, would like to have is some table. Well in the will there’s like a whole paragraph that states how my dad gets nothing, he doesn’t lay a finger on any thing in the house or any money. How my dad is basically worthless and deserves nothing and how he was a crap dad and that she begrudgingly has my mom in the will. Thanks grandma I’ll appreciate the awkwardness."


That'll be one rich taxi driver.

A yellow taxi parked on an urban street
Unsplash | Maxime Doré

"One of our earlier clients passed recently. Turns out the man she left almost everything to, including the residue of her estate--which was considerable--was her regular taxi driver. She had also named him as her executor. He had no clue."


Seems kind of vindictive.

A power drill and other tools
Unsplash | Ra Dragon

"My grandpa gave me all his tools (which sounds dumb but we are in the same trade and it was a real life changer, it included a lift and his old shop truck so I pretty much got everything to start my own shop but a building) a pretty good chunk of change, and his dog Tanner, as long as I made sure his live in girlfriend at the time got nothing at all and I told my uncle he was fat and his wife was going to leave him if she couldn't find his [expletive]. There was literally a script inside the will."


Hint: most beneficiaries are interested in money, not books.

A bookshelf full of books
Unsplash | Iñaki del Olmo

"Here’s one from one of my dad’s law partners. He had a lady come in with an itemized list of books and wanted her will to contain all of the books and who will get what based on her choosing. So basically she decides who gets what specific book instead of letting her beneficiaries decide. The truly astonishing thing is how many books and how specific they get. According to dad’s law partner her list is at about 2,000 books to be divided among about 30 people. She is apparently very specific and comes back at least once a year to add all the new books she’s gotten."


No takebacks.

An outdoor fountain
Unsplash | Tony Mucci

"Not a will, but a deed. The City I work for was renovating a small park that was donated to the City in the 1910s. We went looking through the hand-written deed for easements or other restrictions and found that the family could claw the property back if the park were not, 'perpetually provided with a fountain of pleasant running water fit for consumption by man and beast alike.' ...the family still has descendants in town, so we installed a new water fountain with a dog bowl filler just to be safe."


It was actually the other contents of the outhouse that he wanted to give.

An outhouse in the middle of a field
Unsplash | Robert Linder

"My great uncle's official will gave the contents of his outhouse to the City Council of a nearby town after they'd tried to take his land twice to build a new water treatment plant. He spent quite a few years fighting eminent domain claims and just wanted to give them something in return. As a joke his kids boxed up all the books and magazines in the out house and dropped them off at City Hall."


Downright cat-astrophic.

A grey cat snuggling with a white cat
Unsplash | Fuu J

"Just last week I handled a matter where the parents left millions in artwork to various people, wads of cash to various charities, and only left their kids the family cats. Turns out they did it because the kids got them the cats to comfort the parents in their old age and the parents hated the cats but the kids wouldn’t let them get rid of the cats."


When you murder them but still get an inheritance.

Bars of a prison cell
Unsplash | Marco Chilese

"I had this one account - multi-million dollar trust for one single beneficiary - the son of the deceased. What's interesting is that the son killed the parents... with a hammer in grotesque and brutal fashion. He plead insanity.

He would call once a year from the penitentiary / mental hospital, requesting $50 for commissary (to buy chips and gum). The call was always strange. He was very polite, very doped up."


It's more common than you'd think.

A meowing cat wearing a bandana
Unsplash | Jae Park

"My friend's mother had in her will 'that cat gets to live in my house alone until it expires' the cat lived there for a few years alone with a caregiver checking on it. Yes she was rich."


When you're not sure if you'll be dead or not.

Onion domes in Russia at nighttime
Unsplash | Jaunt and Joy

"I had a Russian client. Son of an oligarch. His father created a trust which provided dispositive provisions for if he was kidnapped and not found within a certain number of months. Freaked me out. I believe the will had similar language too, but I can’t remember now."


That's tough but fair.

Last will and testament paperwork
Unsplash | Melinda Gimpel

"Might be late to the party and not a lawyer, but my great-grandad had a clause in his will that stated something along the lines of, 'if any of the beneficiaries decide to dispute the contents of the decedent’s estate, their share becomes $1 and nothing else'

Seemed like a pretty good way to maintain harmony among his survivors."


One lucky goldfish.

A goldish swimming against a dark background
Unsplash | zhengtao tang

"A lady wanted to create a trust fund of £100,000, for her pet fish. When I asked if it was a special kind of fish, she confirmed it was just a normal goldfish but she wanted it to be fed fresh avocado every day and be looked after by a local dog walker after she died. She was absolutely serious."



A microlight aircraft taking off or landing
Unsplash | Zhenyu Ye

"A relative worked for a firm preparing wills and was confronted by an Executor who had an edict to 'scatter the deceased’s ashes from a microlight aircraft.' He couldn’t fly one.

She kindly pointed out to him that the drafting said nothing about whether said microlight was in flight at the time of scattering."


Filed Under: