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The Top 12 Weird and Wonderful Celebrity Wills

Celebrity requests are known to sometimes be on the strange side, and this even extends to their last will and testament. From secret codes to millionaire farm animals, these are the top 12 weird and wonderful celebrity wills that will leave you speechless.

Spooky legacies

  • Legendary magician and escape artist, Harry Houdini, left a detailed 23-clause-long will which contained a secret code for his wife in order for her to try and contact him by séance. Unfortunately, she never received any haunting words from her late husband and eventually gave up ten years after his death.
  • Vermont-based tanner, John Bowman, left a $50,000 trust fund to maintain his house as he believed the family would be reincarnated and return to their former home together. He even had servants prepare dinner every night in case the family were hungry on their return. This went on for 59 years before the money ran out.

Weird requests

  • Pringles founder, Fred Baur, was so committed to his work he stated in his will that he wanted to be cremated and buried inside a Pringles can. Do you think he specified which flavour?
  • Rather fittingly, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry specified in his will that he wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered in space – “beam me up Scotty” till the very end!
  • French conqueror, Napoleon Bonaparte, made a very strange gift in his will. He asked for his head to be shaved and his hair divided up and given to his friends in equal shares. Oh, you shouldn’t have…

‘Hit it big’ inheritances

  • Two-time Nobel Prize winner and inventor of the x-ray, Marie Curie, left a gram of pure radium to the University of Paris on the condition that her daughter be able to continue her scientific research on the potent element.
  • Literary legend, William Shakespeare, stated in his will that his wife was to get only his “second best bed”. Only second best? So who got the best bed then?
  • Marilyn Monroe left all her belongings to her acting coach Lee Stasberg who was under instruction to divide it all between her friends and family. Instead, he rather obsessively kept it all locked up in a warehouse storage room until he died. His widow inherited it all and promptly sold it for $13.4million – that’s enough to make you think twice about who you put in your will!

Hairy heirs

  • A herd of cows and sheep inherited a trust of £3million from the Queen Mother. Between these 150 Aberdeen Angus cattle and 200 North Country Cheviot sheep they ended up with almost £8,000 each. Not baaaad.
  • Hotel owner, Leona Helmsley, left $12million to her Maltese dog, and her family with next to nothing. The family disputed the will and the case went to court, eventually leaving the dog with just $2million, which is more than enough for one pup in our opinion!
  • Countess Patricia O’Neill notoriously made her chimp, Kalu, the sole heir of her £40million fortune. She’d rescued the animal from war torn Zaire and brought it home to raise. Her husband at the time, Olympic swimmer Frank O’Neill, was written out of the will in favour of the chimp, much to his surprise.
  • But the best example of pampered pets has to be the millionaire German Shepherd dog, Gunther III who inherited £43million from his late owner, Countess Karlotta Liebenstein. When the dog died, his son Gunther IV inherited his father’s money and after receiving some human help with investing, is now worth over £250million. Following in his father’s footsteps, Gunther IV has gone on to buy property in the Bahamas, Italy and Germany, plus one of Madonna’s former homes, and most recently won a bidding war for a rare £1,000 white truffle – no Pedigree Chum for this pampered pooch then!

While you may not have anything quite as kooky or extravagant to leave behind as these celebs, it’s always important to write a will to ensure that your wishes (however strange and specific) are abided by.

To speak to us about making a will or about the process of probate, give us a call on 0207 406 5875.

About the Author Ellie Pierpoint

Ellie is a resident writer for Best Value Probate, covering topics such as Probate, wills and other legal proceedings.