Strange Wills: Eccentric Legacies and Unusual Bequests

Strange WillsThroughout history, wills have served as a way for individuals to dictate the fate of their possessions and legacies after their passing. While most wills are fairly standard, outlining the division of assets among family members and loved ones, some people have left behind far more eccentric wills.

These unusual bequests range from peculiar requests to bizarre stipulations, showcasing the wide array of human creativity and quirkiness. In this article, we will delve into some of the most peculiar wills in history, highlighting the curious legacies they have left behind.

Jeremy Bentham’s “Auto-Icon”

Jeremy Bentham, a British philosopher and social reformer, was best known for his work in developing the theory of utilitarianism. In his will, Bentham left instructions that his body be preserved and displayed as an “auto-icon.” His remains were to be dressed in his usual attire and seated in a chair, allowing future generations to view him as if he were still among the living. Today, Bentham’s “auto-icon” can be seen at the University College London.

Heinrich Heine’s Poetic Revenge

German poet Heinrich Heine married Eugenie Mirat in 1841. Heine, a converted Protestant, was disappointed when his Catholic wife refused to convert to his faith. In his will, Heine left his entire estate to his wife, but with one peculiar stipulation: she would only inherit his wealth if she converted to Protestantism after his death. Eugenie ultimately complied, and the couple’s religious differences were resolved posthumously.

T.M. Zink’s Women-Free Library

In 1930, American lawyer and businessman T.M. Zink left a peculiar bequest in his will. Zink set aside $50,000 to establish a library in his hometown of Le Mars, Iowa. The catch? The library was to be devoid of any materials written by or about women, and women were not to be allowed inside. Legal challenges and changing social attitudes eventually led to the funds being used for other purposes, with no women-free library ever being established.

Charles Millar’s Great Stork Derby

Canadian lawyer and financier Charles Millar passed away in 1926, leaving behind an eccentric will that sparked a decades-long legal battle. Millar’s will included a provision that awarded his fortune to the Toronto woman who could give birth to the most children within a ten-year period following his death. Dubbed “The Great Stork Derby,” the contest ultimately saw four women tie for first place, each giving birth to nine children within the specified timeframe. After years of litigation, the prize money was finally divided among the winners in 1938.

Luis Carlos’ Cat Kingdom

In 2007, Portuguese aristocrat Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara left a unique legacy in his will. He selected 70 random people from a Lisbon phone directory and bequeathed his entire fortune to them, with none of the beneficiaries having any prior connection to the deceased. Adding to the peculiarity of his will, Luis Carlos also left provisions for his beloved pets. His 12 cats were to be well-cared for and allowed to live out their lives in his luxurious mansion, which was converted into a cat sanctuary.


These strange wills offer a glimpse into the fascinating and sometimes perplexing minds of their creators. From unusual requests to creative bequests, these eccentric legacies remind us that even in death, people can leave behind a lasting and unique impact.

error: Content is protected !!