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Five Extraordinary Will Bequests

By Wesleyan

You might be surprised with some of the will bequests and wishes drafted in the past...

Would you leave millions of pounds to your beloved pet? What would you do if you didn't agree with a relative's wishes made in a will? Then, you might be surprised with some of the will bequests and wishes drafted in the past...

Takeaway gets the biggest tip - ever!

Golda "Goldie" Bechal, a widow from London left most of her £10 million estate to the owners of her local Chinese restaurant. Mrs Bechal's nieces and nephews challenged the will, claiming that their aunt was so mentally frail that the will was invalid and they were entitled to inherit her fortune. However, the judge dismissed the claim, leaving the two Chinese restaurateurs to receive the £10 million inheritance.

Chauvinism taken to the extreme

T.M Zink, an attorney from Iowa, USA who died in 1930, admitted to having an intense dislike for women.He left just $5 to his daughter and nothing to his wife, but he left $35,000 to be put into a trust fund for 75 years, to be used at the end of its term (with the accrued interest) to build a "womanless library"!

He demanded the library be free of any books and publications by female authors, with signs above the door stating "No women allowed." The attorney's daughter successfully challenged the will, so the female-free library was never built. Finally, the estate was given to Mr Zink's daughter and his wife.

Every dog has its day

The billionaire property and hotel tycoon, Leona Helmsley left a staggering $12 million to her pet dog and excluded two of her grandsons from her will. "Princess", as Ms Helmsley was adamant her beloved Maltese should be addressed by, had received a number of kidnapping and death threats after the windfall.

In 2008, a judge ruled that $12 million exceeded the amount required to take care of the dog and so the pet's inheritance was reduced to $2 million.

To be or not to be - well certainly in Will's case

The famous playwright, William Shakespeare, wrote in his last will and testament, "Item I give unto my wife my second-best bed with the furniture".

At the time it was not unusual to bequeath a bed, as furniture was considered to be expensive and of great value however, this is the only mention Shakespeare makes of his wife, Anne Hathaway, which was considered to be curious.

To go where no man has gone before

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the legendary sci-fi TV and film franchise, Star Trek, requested in his will that he be cremated and his remains launched into space. His wishes were fulfilled and his ashes were carried by a Spanish satellite, a few years after his death.

His wife, Majel Barratt Roddenberry also commissioned for her cremated remains to be blasted into space, so she could join her husband.

These somewhat unusual bequests show how complex estate administration can be and how disputes can arise.In day-to-day practice, there are many sources of challenge - from unknown or missing beneficiaries, to the validity of the will or because a will of later date is discovered.

Executor & Inheritance Protection can ensure the estate's executors, administrators, beneficiaries and charities against challenges once the estate has been distributed, giving innocent beneficiaries certainty over their inheritance.

Find our more about Executor and Inhertitance Protection for Lawyers.

Read more about Executor & Inheritance Tax Protection, or contact the Wesleyan Professional Indemnity Team on 0800 107 1404.

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