What are the strangest will requests ever made?

Published 13 Mar 2018

Author: Garbis Kolokossian

Drafting a will helps ensure that your estate is distributed according to your final wishes when you die. Most people use this opportunity to provide financial support for their surviving loved ones.

However, not everyone takes a traditional approach to estate planning. Here are some of the more unusual requests that testators have included when writing their wills.

1. Beneficiaries chosen from the phone book

Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral de Camara was a Portuguese aristocrat who left his estate to 70 people chosen at random from the phone book.

Writing a will is unusual in Portugal, but Luis had no heirs or friends to inherit his assets, which included a 12-room apartment in Central Lisbon, another property in the country's northern region and $39,000 in cash.

According to the BBC, many beneficiaries were sceptical of their unexpected windfall, believing they were being scammed.

2. Pay off the national debt

In 1928, an anonymous British will maker set aside $884,380, which he stipulated must be used to clear the country's national debt. However, the UK's Financial Times reported that the money has sat in legal limbo for 90 years because of a caveat in the will.

The trust, which was worth $620 million in 2013, can only be spent on the national debt when the government has accumulated the remaining outstanding cash.

With Office for National Statistics data showing the country's debt at over $3 trillion in October 2017, it's unlikely the money will be freed up anytime soon.

3. Establish a womanless library

Iowa attorney T M Zink was an unrepentant misogynist who established a $64,000 trust in his 1930 will in order to eventually open the Zink Womanless Library.

Not only would women be barred from entering, but the establishment would also have no books, pieces of art or interior design created by female authors and artists.

"My intense hatred of women is not of recent origin or development nor based upon any personal differences I ever had with them, but is the result of my experiences with women, observations of them and study of all literatures and philosophical works," he explained in his will.

Fortunately, Zink's family successfully challenged the will and plans for the library were quashed.

Contesting a will in NSW

While estate executors must try to carry out the testamentary wishes of the deceased, unusual will requests can still be subject to inheritance disputes. This is particularly true when the deceased's loved ones have been left out of the will entirely.

If you would like to discuss whether you are eligible to make a family provision claim in NSW, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers.

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