Odd last wishes could be grounds for contesting a will

Published 14 Mar 2014

William Shakespeare is revered for composing some of the most beautiful lines of prose and poetry the world has ever seen.

Everyone will have a favourite phrase from his sonnets or plays, whether it be “the course of true love never did run smooth” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) or “to be or not to be, that is the question” (Hamlet).

However, one of the most well-known sentences the Immortal Bard penned is not from a work of fiction – it’s from his will.

“Item, I give unto my wife my second best bed with the furniture.”

This odd statement has tormented scholars for centuries, and there’s no doubt Anne Hathaway would have contacted a contesting wills lawyer to receive a larger portion of Shakespeare’s estate if they’d been available in the early 17th century.

Of course, Shakespeare’s not the only person who’s left strange instructions in their will.

For example, a man named Ernest Digweed is alleged to have left $47,000 in the 1970s to none other than Jesus Christ himself. According to Cracked.com, Our Lord and Saviour had 100 years (at the time of the will’s creation) to show up and collect his money, after which time it would be given to the state.

While it’s the right of every person to dispose of their assets in any way they see fit, such a peculiar request might be suitable grounds for contesting a will.

One man whose daughter successfully brought a contesting wills case against him was T M Zink, a US attorney who passed away in 1930. In his will, Mr Zink said that, due to his “intense hatred of women”, he wanted his family to establish the Zink Womenless Library after his death.

He left $50,000 of his estate to fund the project, reveals ListVerse, and some very specific instructions for what should be included – and not included – in the building. There were to be no books or artwork composed by women in the Zink Womenless Library, and a sign reading “No Women Permitted” above the entrance.

Unfortunately for Mr Zink, his estate fell into the hands of his daughter, who decided it was better to contest a will such as this, rather than see her father’s vision brought to life.

If you feel you have been treated unfairly in a loved one’s will – whether they’re last wishes are bizarre or not – get in touch with contesting wills lawyers in Sydney today.

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