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Funny Wills

Wills aren't usually funny, but some people do take the opportunity to cast an ascerbic dart:

  • (From Ireland) 'To my wife, I leave her lover, and the knowledge that I was not the fool she thought me; to my son I leave the pleasure of earning a living. For 20 years he thought the pleasure was mine; he was mistaken.'
  • Not quite so funny, but with a similar twisted logic, was a will ('Fuller v Strum' 2001) where the will was opposed by an adopted son. The will had made him a gift, but he wanted more. The will contained a gift of residue, saying the gift was made 'grudgingly' and continuing with the words 'I hate him like poison, that Irish bastard,' It has to be said for him that others seem to have agreed that this did not reflect what they understood was his father's opinion of him. Even so, the will stood.
  • The Canadian lawyer Charles Millar died, like many lawyers, a wealthy man. He left most of his estate to 'the mother who has since my death given birth in Toronto to the greatest number of children.' You too? I had to read it at least twice to work out what he was saying - even then I was not quite sure. Lawyers eh, you can't live with'em, you sure as hell can't die without 'em. I am not sure whether the Canadian Court saw the joke, but they refused a petition from his surviving relatives attempting to invalidate it as 'disgusting and revolting' and an insult to public policy.
  • Back in time to Engand when, in more gentle and generous times, the retired Sir Joseph Jekyll, Masetr of the Rolls and therefore a very senior judge, left his considerable estate to pay off the national debt. A contemporary commentator suggested he might as well have 'attempted to block the middle arch of Blackfriars Bridge with his full-bottomed wig'. More surprisingly, perhaps, the will was later set aside on the 'ground of imbecility' - Lord Jekyll was the sitting Master of the Rolls at the time he had made the will!
  • Even further back in time was Shakespeare's bequest "I gyve to my wief my second-best bed with the furniture."
  • One chap left a third of his estate to his wife "if she was his wife".

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18 October 2013 433 18 October 2013