Weird Wills – Shakespeare, Pringles and moustaches!

Whilst we do come across weird Wills from time to time, thankfully, most Wills tend to be straight forward and simple. But sometimes the family situation or relationships can lead to odd instructions.

Spite and control from beyond the grave!

If a Grant of Probate is required, a Will becomes a public document – and history shows how some people (testators) use their Will to be spiteful ‘from beyond the grave’.  Annie Langabeer left two shillings and sixpence to her brother, so he could “buy a rope” to hang himself.  While it may seem harsh, William Shakespeare left his wife “his second-best bed” while giving the bulk of his estate to his daughter, Susanna. This was however, customary in those times.

The oddest instructions often relate to funeral wishes. The inventor of Pringles (those yummy crisps) wanted to be buried in a Pringles tube. Disappointingly, a large size tube was not constructed – instead he was cremated, and his ashes interred in a regular sized tube.  And of course, his family decided that only the ORIGINAL flavour would do!

Some testators try to exert control from grave – on his death in 1842 Henry Budd, a wealthy property speculator, investor, and builder, left his £200,000 fortune to his two sons on the proviso that “neither sullied his lip with a moustache”. How many hipster sons would wrestle with such a bequest today?!

Another disgruntled husband left only his suit to his wife because “she always wanted to wear the trousers”! This Will was contested by the suit-wearing wife.

Avoiding a claim

Amusing stories of weird Wills aside, if you deliberately exclude someone (most obviously your spouse) in your Will, which then leaves them financially disadvantaged, they can apply to the Court to seek an award to remedy their position,  Such claims, under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, can also be made by others – such as children who are financially dependent on you at the date of your death, your partner if you lived with them for more than 2 years before your death, or anyone else who you are maintaining at the date of your death.

An experienced Will drafter will discuss your situation and advise you how to reduce the chances of your Will being challenged.

Getting the details right

Drafting Wills is a highly skilled job – the Will drafter needs to listen very carefully to the person wanting to make the Will (called a ‘testator’) to make sure their instructions are fully understood.  For example, if a farmer always refers to his wife as ‘our mam’, without further enquiry this could be interpreted as his mother.  A proficient Will drafter will alert the testator to any potential problems with their requests, any glaring omissions, and the likely Inheritance Tax implications this may have for the estate.

At Thomson Hayton Winkley, our Will drafters are all experienced solicitors who specialise in this area.  They have the necessary expertise and patience to listen to your requests, to advise you and provide you with the best Will for your circumstances.

Don’t be one of the 66% of UK adults who do not have a Will.  Bring your thoughts to the table (no matter how weird) and we will help you.

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