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Estate Planning

Five Unusual Will Requests



will is simply a document that explains your final wishes. Most last will and testaments leave instructions such as how earthly remains should be handled, what assets should go to whom and what will become of the deceased’s estate.

However, while these will requests are common, many testators leave very specific and sometimes unusual instructions for the living.

Following are five will requests that are anything but ordinary:

1. William Shakespeare — When the playwright passed away in 1616 he bequeathed in his will something a bit odd to his wife — his second best mattress/bed. Now, in the 16-1700s, good beds were hard to find (think bedbugs, hay, lice) and leaving a bed or mattress to an heir was commonplace. But leaving your second-best bed? Strange.

2. Janis Joplin — With her unmistakable blues voice and reputation for heavy drinking and drug use, Janis Joplin was truly a rock star. In fact, a mere two days before her death she updated her will and set aside $2,500 to be exclusively used on a posthumous party for her friends at her favorite bar in San Anselmo, California.

3. Fredric Baur — Once you pop, you can’t stop! Fredric Baur invented the Pringles can for Proctor & Gamble in 1966 and he was so proud of his creation that he requested his cremated remains be buried inside of one. When Baur passed away in 2008 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, his sons honored his wish and filled an original flavor Pringles can with their father’s ashes.

4. Robert Louis Stevenson — Perhaps one of the most interesting will requests was made by Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson had a longtime friend who frequently lamented that her birthday was the same day as Christmas and therefore, she felt cheated out of her birthday. To spare her any more years of grief, Stevenson left his birthday, November 13 to his friend Annie H. Ide.

5. Mark Gruenwald — Unless you’re a Marvel Comics fan, you’ve probably never heard of Mark Gruenwald. Yet unless you’ve been living in a cave, you undoubtedly know of the two superheroes he dedicated his life to — Captain America and Ironman. When he passed away in 1996, Gruenwald’s will requested that his ashes be mixed with ink and used to print new comics. It is said that Marvel fulfilled his wish.

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