In our new regular feature, we take a look at the lighter side of the afterlife. In the first instalment, we take a look at 5 unusual Wills that raised a few eyebrows.
Writing a Will is one of the most important things you can do in your lifetime, because a Will helps to protect your Estate after you’re gone and stops it falling into the wrong hands. It’s also a chance for you to make sure that the people you love are not left to deal with financial difficulties after you’re gone.
Some Wills are perhaps more unusual than others. We take a look at 5 Wills that have raised a few eyebrows, and a few laughs, when they’ve been carried out.
The famous magician and escape artist died aged just 52 following a severe bout of peritonitis, caused by a fan punching him repeatedly in the stomach to test his abdomen strength. Sadly, Houdini failed the test. In his Will he left his wife a secret note with 10 randomly selected words on it, that he would use to communicate with her in the afterlife. Houdini had experience of séances and believed mediums and psychics to be fakes. His message to his wife was intended to prove his theory. For 10 years she held a séance on Halloween, but apparently Houdini was tied up elsewhere, because he never showed up.
Following her death in 1934, two times Nobel Prize winner Curie’s only property of worth was a gram of pure radium. Curie had been extremely generous during her lifetime and had given much of her wealth away to friends and charitable causes. Her Will was no exception as she gifted the gram of radium to the University of Paris, so that her daughter Irene could continue research into the element. Her gift paid off, as Irene went on to follow in her mother’s footsteps by winning the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935.
American singer-songwriter Janis Joplin was one of the leading lights of the 1960s music scene, with a performance style that has come to influence hundreds of female singers and musicians, since her tragic death in 1970. Joplin was loved by her legions of fans worldwide, and her death shocked the music world. In her Will, she left $2,500 for her friends to enjoy a huge party in her honour, or as she put it “so my friends can get blasted!”
The Little Emperor is perhaps the most famous general in all history. His military expertise helped him rise to the head of the French nation, conquering much of Europe along the way. In 1814 however, his tactical genius failed him, and enemies in France turned on him. He was imprisoned on the island of Elba but escaped and was made the leader of France again. Defeat to the British and Prussian armies at Waterloo halted his second reign, and he was imprisoned on the island of St. Helena where he died in 1821. In his Will, he asked for his hair to be completely shaved and gifted to his friends. Because of this, recent tests have shown large quantities of arsenic present in Napoleon’s hair, leading many experts to claim that he was slowly being poisoned over time.
Arguably Britain’s best-loved writer and the creator of timeless characters such as David Copperfield, Ebenezer Scrooge and Oliver Twist, Dickens died in 1870 and had asked that his funeral be a quiet and small occasion, to be held at Rochester Cathedral. However, he was held in such high esteem that his funeral became a national event, held at Westminster Abbey. His resting spot was described as a sacred spot “with both the New World and the Old, as that of the representative of literature, not of this island only, but of all who speak our English tongue.” Dickens left £800,000 in today’s terms, to his sons. He also provided his estranged wife with an annual income of £600 in Victorian money (over £25,000 today), and left each of his servants the sum of £19 9s each (around £900).
These Wills may all have unusual requests, but each one provided for the deceased’s family and friends long after they were gone. No matter how famous, intelligent or great we think we are, death catches up with all of us. Prepare now for when you’re gone and make sure that your loved ones are provided for, by writing a Will with Talking Wills today.
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