It makes sense to make a will. Most of us realize that, but actually getting around to it seems such a hassle. How much thought went in these “wills with a difference”?
The famous magician and escapologist, Harry Houdini, couldn’t escape death. Having died from a burst appendix, one of his biggest surprises came with the reading of his will. His magicians equipment went to his former partner Theodore, who was also his brother. His magical powers didn’t work on the next item – his considerable library of books on magic and the occult. He left these to the American Society for Psychical Research, but only on the condition that their research officer J Malcolm Bird, who also was the editor of their journal, resigned. The collection passed to the Library of Congress.
The rabbits that he used in his act came out of their hats and were divided around the children of friends. Continuing the odd theme, his left his wife ten words, which formed a secret code, with the promise that he would use these words to reach her from the afterlife. Each year for ten years, following his death, she faithfully held séances, but Harry never made contact.
Rock and blues singer Janis Joplin had a brief but memorable career. She recorded several rock classics and four albums, including “To Love Somebody” and “Me and Bobby McGee”. After years of drug and drinks, she passed away from an overdose, aged 27. Two days prior to her death in 1970 she willed the figure of 2,500 dollars to fund an all night party at her favourite pub so that her friends could “get blasted after I’m gone.” It must have been some party – that was an appreciable amount of money back in 1970.
We’ve all heard of people that, unexpectedly, donate all their money to the cats’ home, much to the dismay of their family. Lot’s of family feuds start when a will is read. As long as the person who made the will is of sound mind and not under duress when the will is made, it’s their choice and can be seen as a gesture of their individuality.
Quirks apart, if you die without leaving a will, the people whom you would wish to inherit will not necessarily be that ones that do so. You could have a partner of several years, but if you’re not married or in a legal partnership, he or she won’t get your estate, whatever your intentions and promises were. This can be sad when it’s not clearly understood and can cause devastating financial consequences.
The up to date way to get your will under way is to go online and find a will adviser. However simple your wishes are, it’s best to get the professionals to write it for you and you can be sure that you’re leaving things exactly how you would wish them to be. Simple or complicated, they’re there to help.
Of course, you could already have a will in place, but spare some thought to how long it is since you considered it. Circumstances change and it could be time to re-assess. Take some advice.