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Five of the most unusual will requests left in history

By z4027672030, Nov 23 2015 10:08AM

As well as setting out how our financial assets and properties are to be divided upon our death, wills can also be used to make sure other personal wishes can be fulfilled following our passing. Throughout history, the majority of people have left purely formal instructions, though some have been a little more imaginative with their requests – below are some of the more unusual:

Flowers for Sidmouth

69-year-old self-made millionaire Keith Owen was diagnosed with cancer and given just a few weeks to live, leading to him donating his entire £2.3m fortune to his favourite holiday destination, Sidmouth in Devon. Today, the money is being held by the Sid Vale Association, held with the stipulation that a portion of the funds was to be spent on a million flowering bulbs, flooding the town with colour. His will also specifies that the interest from the will should be spent on maintaining the town and two nearby villages. Unfortunately, the bulbs have not yet been planted, with the town council saying this could take a few more years.

Clearing the national debt

A particularly public-minded donor made a half a million-pound bequest to the UK back in 1928, which was to be used to clear the national debt once the fortune was vast enough to cover it. Today, the bequest is worth more than £350m, though the national debt stands at £1.5tn, meaning the inheritance is nowhere near ready to be used.

A daily rose

Following his death in 1974, legendary American comedian Jack Benny left an unusual yet romantic instruction in his will. Since he passed away, his widow, Mary Livingstone, has been delivered one red rose a day from the florist. Jack had included a provision for the flowers in his will, meaning that she would receive a rose every day for the rest of her life.

The ‘second-best’ bed

Perhaps one of the most famous will requests of all time was left by William Shakespeare to his wife Anne Hathaway. Shakespeare requested that Hathaway was left the ‘second-best bed’, while his daughter Susanna received the vast majority of the estate. Though initially this may appear to be a snub from Shakespeare, the best bed in the house was often reserved for guests, with the second-best bed therefore being the one Hathaway shared with Shakespeare, making his wishes a little more personal and romantic.

Strangers from a phone directory

When Portuguese aristocrat Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara wrote his will, he decided to not leave his will to his friends or family, but rather to invest his kindness in some complete strangers. He left his large fortune to 70 complete strangers, which he had chosen out of a Lisbon phone directory.

Though these wills are interesting and difficult, they can often be misinterpreted and can lead to confusion, and so leaving a more formal and sensible will may often be the best decision. Taylors Solicitors, a leading team of solicitors in Devon, specialise in wills, and will be able to help you to write a will which best reflects your wishes.

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