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Edinburgh: 0131 500 0277

Midlothian: 0131 500 0272

Solicitors and Estate Agents

The bizarre world of Celebrity Wills

It is important that everyone has a Will as your Will tells everyone what should happen to your estate (your money, possessions and property) after you die. If you don’t leave a will, the law decides how your estate is passed on – and this might not be in line with your wishes.

Celebrities however often use their Will for other more extravagant demands. The Telegraph produced a report recently looking at some of the more unusual requests left in celebrity wills:

  • When singer Janis Joplin died of a drugs overdose at the age of 27, a fund of $2500 was left for a huge all night party to be held to celebrate her life.
  • When illusionist Harry Houdini died in 1926, reports suggested that in his Will he requested that his wife hold a séance once a year at Halloween in order for them to communicate in the after-life.
  • Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw requested in his Will that some of his money would go towards reforming the English alphabet into one that was phonetic and had at least 40 letters – now known as the Shavian alphabet.
  • Napoleon requested in his Will that upon his death his head was to be shaved and his hair distributed to family and friends.
  • When American property and hotel billionaire Leona Helmsley (aka the Queen of Mean) died, she left a $12m trust fund to her dog!
  • Dusty Springfield also ensured her beloved cat was looked after in her Will and requested that the cat be fed baby food imported from the US, live in an indoor tree house lined with scratch pads and catnip, be serenaded to sleep each night by Dusty’s music, have his bed lined with her pillowcase and nightgown, and get “married” to a friend’s female cat.
  • When actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died he requested that his son be raised in three different cities – San Francisco, Chicago and New York – and if this was not possible he requested that his son visit them at least twice a year.
  • Marilyn Monroe left all her personal belongings, including clothes and shoes, to her acting coach Lee Strasburg, on the understanding he would divide them between family and friends. However Strasberg never gave away anything and stored all the belongings in a warehouse, and on his death a number of years later his widow then auctioned Marilyn’s possessions for millions of dollars.
  • In his Will Mark Gruenweld, Executive Director for Marvel Comics, asked that he be cremated and that his ashes be mixed into the ink used in a comic book. The request was honoured and his ashes were sprinkled into the printers ink used in the first trade paperback compilation of Squadron Supreme.
  • Writer and producer Gene Roddenberry (of Star Trek) requested that he “boldly go where no man had gone before” and have his ashes scattered on space – and rightly so in 1997 seven grammes of his ashes were sent into space aboard a Pegasus XL rocket.

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