Weird & wonderful bequests from wills

A person’s last will and testament allows a person to leave instructions for what happens to their property and possessions after they die.

For most people, this is a straightforward exercise – you leave your assets to a spouse or divide among a select group of family and friends.

However, the nature of a will means it’s possible to stipulate almost anything you like. Here are some examples of weird and wonderful bequests.

  • The magician and escape artist Harry Houdini left his wife a secret list of ten words. He believed this would enable her to contact him from the afterlife. 


  • Famed Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson left his birthday to his close friend, Annie H. Ide. Through the years, Annie had complained that her real birth date, Christmas day, was an inconvenience. On his death, he dutifully bequeathed her his birthday (November 13th), stating that she should look after it with care. 


  • Napoleon Bonaparte put an unusual request into his will. When he died, he wanted his head shaved, and his hair divided amongst his friends. 


  • A man named Henry Budd left £200,000 to his two sons, on one condition: neither of them could grow a moustache.


  • Another unusual bequest came from a man named John Bowman. He left £50,000 in trust so that his servants could prepare and serve him dinner every night after he passed – just in case he was to come back.


  • In his will, Shakespeare left his “second best bed” to his wife Anne Hathaway. 


  • Portuguese aristocrat Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara divided his fortune amongst 70 strangers, all randomly chosen out of a Lisbon phonebook. 


  • When Roger Brown died from prostate cancer in 2013, the 67-year old left a secret bequest in his will. He allotted £3,500 his seven closest friends, stipulating that it was to be spent on a boozy weekend away in a European city. 


Do you need to update your will? Silversrufers Members enjoy a special discount from Co-op Legal Services. 


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Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor

Hello there! I’m Rachel and I’m the Assistant Editor for Silversurfers. I work behind the scenes to bring interesting, informative and entertaining subject matter to the Silversurfers community. I hope you enjoy the features we have shared with you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us, we love to hear from you!

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