Bizarre Requests from Beyond the Grave

Bizarre Requests from Beyond the Grave

Most of us want to leave our assets to our children and other loved ones and in most cases these consist of a house (with contents), some money, maybe some jewellery, pictures or works of art. But there are some people who take “leaving things to your loved ones” to a whole new level. Here is a selection of some of the strangest bequests I have come across while doing some research on the topic.

Marie Curie – When she died in 1934, a gram of pure radium, originally received as a gift from the women of America, was her only property of substantial worth. Her will stated: “The value of the element being too great to transfer to a personal heritage, I desire to will the gram of radium to the University of Paris on the condition that my daughter, Irene Curie, shall have entire liberty to use this gram … according to the conditions under which her scientific researches shall be pursued.” Element 96, Curium (Cm), was named in honor of Marie and her husband, Pierre.

Sanborn – This19th-century New England hatter, left a rather macabre bequest to a friend — a pair of drums made from Sanborn’s skin. The friend was also instructed to go to Bunker Hill each June 17th and play “Yankee Doodle Dandy” on the drums.

T.M. Zink – The Iowa lawyer who died in 1930, must have had some pretty bad experiences with women. When he died he left his daughter a measly five bucks, and his wife got nothing. He stipulated that the rest of his $100,000 estate be put in a trust for 75 years, then used to create the Zink Womanless Library. The library would have no feminine decorations, no books or magazine articles by female authors, and was required to have “No Women Admitted” carved into the stone over the entrance.

Robert Louis Stevenson – When the celebrated author died, he left his friend Annie H. Ide his birthday. Ide had previously complained to Stevenson about the inconvenience of being born on Christmas Day, so the writer left her November 13th as a new birthday provided she take care of it with “moderation and humanity… the said birthday not being so young as it once was.”

Charles Millar, a Canadian Attorney – He died a childless bachelor, but left $568,106 to the mother who gave birth to the most children in Toronto in the 10 years following his 1928 death. This bequest prompted what Canadians called “the Baby Derby” as mothers raced to win the fortune. Finally, in 1938 four winners split the prize after giving birth to nine babies apiece.

And finally an example from closer to home. One of my clients left to her son a picture of a horse which was hanging over her mantelpiece “on the condition that he hangs it in his sitting room for a minimum of a month to remind him of me”.  She then winked at me and said “He hates that picture!”

Do you have any items that you want to leave to someone that are out of the ordinary? The only way to make sure your wishes are carried out is to make a Will. If you have any questions about how to do this, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

I, Amanda Harris, am a trained lawyer and a member of the Society of Will Writers. I visit my clients in their own homes at their convenience and am based in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire. You can find out what my clients have said about my work on my website or get in touch by phone 0115 8780417 or email at