WACKY WILL STORIES – PART 2
In the last two years we have had a look at the lighter side of Wills of some of the rich and famous.
There have been many prominent celebrities who have died without updating or even making their Wills, leaving their family members feuding over and reducing their million dollar estates.
HEATH LEDGER died in 2008 without having updated his Will since 2003. In his 2003 Will Ledger left his entire estate to his parents and sisters and made no mention of his daughter Matilda Rose who was born in 2005. A battle did ensue between his family members, but fortunately in the end Matilda received all of her father’s estate.
BOB MARLEY died in 1981 without a Will (i.e. intestate) leaving his family feuding for decades. It has been reported that Marley’s widow, Rita Marley, tried to create an estate plan for Marley after his death and forged his signature to grant herself access to a larger portion of his estate. Rita Marley’s plot was ultimately uncovered and she lost the right to act as the executor of her late husband’s estate.
More recently, Prince, Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse are also in the category of celebrities who died intestate.
We always recommend that you should maintain a current Will properly drawn by your lawyer, who can take into account your individual circumstances.
You need to remember that events such as marriage and divorce will invalidate any Will that you have.
Here are some unusual clauses that have been read in Wills that you may or may not wish to consider including in your Will.
DAVID BOWIE – DIED IN 2016
In his Will, Bowie asked that his body be cremated in Bali and for his ashes to be scattered in accordance with Buddhist rituals. (Note: your Will is not limited to directions regarding the division of your estate, it can also be used to indicate your preference of burial or cremation and any other specific wishes you may have for your funeral). Bowie further directed that if cremation in Bali was ‘not practical’ he be cremated in the USA and his ashes to later be scattered in Bali. Bowie was cremated in January 2016 in New Jersey.
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE – DIED 1821
In his last Will, Napoleon asked that his head be shaved after his death, and his hair divided up among his friends.
HARRY HOUDINI – DIED 1926
Houdini asked that after his death, his wife hold a séance every year to try to contact his spirit. He developed a secret code with his wife so that they would know if it was truly his spirit that was present.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE – DIED 1616
Perhaps not his most romantic work, Shakespeare left his wife his ‘second-best bed’ in his Will (what happened to the ‘first-best bed?’).
FRED BAUR – DIED 2008
Baur, the inventor of the Pringles can, was so proud of his invention that he asked to be buried in one. It is reported that his family did comply with his wishes.
JOHN B KELLY Sr – DIED 1960
Grace Kelly’s father, John B. Kelly, asked his daughter in his Will to curb limit her spending habits. He asked Grace to ‘not bankrupt the Principality of Monaco with the bills about her clothing.’
Give us a call today to make an appointment to bring your Will up to date.
About the author:
This article has been authored by Jacqueline Brown who is a Perth lawyer and director at Lynn & Brown Lawyers. Jacqui has over 20 years’ experience in legal practice and practices in family law, mediation and estate planning. Jacqui is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator and a Notary Public.