‘Tis the season….It’s that time of year again when we start to reflect on the people and things in our lives for which we are thankful. We hope to be able to give back to those who have enriched our lives, whether it be while we are still alive, or after we are no longer here, or both. In the spirit of the season, I thought it would be fun to play a little trivia game . . .
Last Will and Testament Trivia
Directions: Simple. Match the famous individual with their last wish(es).
Here are the people:
1) John Bowman 6) John (Jack) Kelly
2) W.C. Fields 7) Florence Nightingale
3) Benjamin Franklin 8) William Shakespeare
4) Patrick Henry 9) Janis Joplin
5) Harry Houdini 10) Samuel Houston
- “I wish my sons early taught an utter contempt for novels and light reading.” This person felt that men should be men with no time for frivolous pastimes.
- To his wife, this famous person left his “second best bed.” Leaving someone a good quality bed with no fleas or vermin was not unusual at this time, however, one is left to speculate what happened to this man’s “first best bed.”
- This famous person left his/her remains for dissection or postmortem examination for the purpose of Medical Science.” Although not unusual today, this wish was somewhat novel for the early 1900s.
- $2,500 “so my friends can get blasted after I’m gone.” This person left instructions that a party with 200 guests take place at his/her favorite pub in San Anselmo, California.
- This person dictated that his wife should lose all that she inherited if she were to remarry. Ironically, this person is best known for his statement, “Give me liberty or give me death!”
- This person dictated that his wife hold an annual séance so he could reveal himself to her. Despite leaving his wife a secret note with 10 randomly selected words to prove that he could communicate with the living, and his wife holding a séance every year for 10 years on Halloween after his death, no revelations were ever reported.
- This person left to his son “all my personal belongings . . . .except the ties, shirts, sweaters and socks, as it seems
unnecessary to give him something of which he has already taken possession.” He also deliberately left
nothing to his son-in-law, stating instead that “I don’t want to give the impression that I am against sons-in-law. If they are the right type, they will provide for themselves and their families, and what I am able to give my daughters will help pay the dress shop bills, which, if they continue as they started out, under the able tutelage of their mother, will be quite considerable.”
- This person’s last wish was that his daughter not engage in the “expensive, vain and useless pastime of wearing jewels.” In so stating, this person wished to preclude his daughter from removing the 408 diamonds adorning a framed picture of King Louis XVI given to him by the former ambassador of France, which he thereafter
left to his daughter.
- This person was famous for, among other things, coining the phrase, “Anybody who hates children and dogs can’t be all bad.” Ironically, upon his death, he made a provision for an institution to be named after him and dubbed “College of Orphan White Boys and Girls.” Unfortunately, this individual was believed to have had almost $700,000 deposited in various bank accounts which remain unidentified to this day, as he kept no written records.
- Because of his strong belief in reincarnation, this individual, who died in 1891, set up a trust worth $50,000 to pay servants to keep up the housework in his 21 room mansion and to prepare daily meals in the event that he and his family returned from the dead hungry. Apparently, these wishes were honored for almost 60 years, until the trust ran out of money in 1950.
In bringing this entry to a close, I’d like to share with you some of the most profound last wishes I found, which were not those of a person at all, but rather, a Dalmatian dog, as penned by his owner, Eugene O’Neill, to comfort Mrs. O’Neill upon the loss of the beloved family pet:
“Dogs are wiser than men. They do not set great store upon things. They do not waste their days hoarding property. They do not ruin their sleep worrying about how to keep the objects they have, and to obtain the objects they have not. There is nothing of value I have to bequeath except my love and faith. . . . Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also with happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: ‘Here lies one who loved us and whom we loved.’”
Until next time . . .
A-10; B-8; C-7; D-9;E-4; F-5; G-6; H-3; I-2; J-1
If you got one or more correct – okay, even if you mention this entry – you are entitled to a 30-minute complementary consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys to review your existing estate plan or prepare a new one. We look forward to seeing you.