Bizarre Wills and Testaments
These make you wonder about the phrase, "being of sound mind":
- Ms. Eleanor Ritchey, the unmarried granddaughter of the founder of
Quaker State Oil, died in 1968 with an estate worth around $12
million. According to Scott Bieber in Trusts and Estates magazine:
"Under her will, she left over 1,700 pairs of shoes and 1,200 boxes
of stationery to the Salvation Army. The rest of the estate went to
the dogs." Real dogs, he means - a pack of 150 strays that Ritchey
had adopted as pets.
- When American patriot Patrick Henry died, everything he owned was
left to his wife - as long as she never married again. If she did, he
forfeited the whole thing. "It would make me unhappy," he explained,
"to feel I have worked all my life only to support another man's
wife!" She remarried anyway.
- Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, tried to leave
his birthday. He willed it to a good friend who'd complained that
since she was born on Christmas, she never got to have a real
- An attorney in France left $10,000 to "a local madhouse." The
gentleman declared that "it was simply an act of restitution to his
- An Australian named Francis R. Lord left one shilling to his
wife "for tram fare so she can go somewhere and drown herself." The
inheritance was never claimed.
- Sandra West, a wealthy 37-year-old Beverly Hills socialite, left
most of her $3 million estate to her brother - provided he made sure
she was buried "in my lace nightgown and my Ferrari, with the seat
slanted comfortably." That's how she was buried. The Ferrari was
surrounded with concrete so no one would be tempted to dig it up and
- A woman in Cherokee County, North Carolina left her entire estate
to God. The court instructed the county sheriff to find the
beneficiary. A few days later, the sheriff returned and submitted his
report: "After due and diligent search, God cannot be found in this
- Edgar Bergen, famed ventriloquist, left $10,000 to the Actor's Fund
of America - so they could take care of his dummy, Charlie McCarthy,
and put him in a show once a year. They went along with it.
This page was last updated March 1, 2006.