Odd Last Requests in Wills

Most wills leave money and real estate to spouses, children, siblings and friends, but there are some people who wish to leave behind their wealth to the oddest recipients. Some walk on four legs, while others are complete strangers with strings-attached clauses. In this article, you will learn a few odd last requests of wills.  

Odd Last Request

When the end was near for American Mrs Robert Hayes, she spent her last days wondering what would become of her husband and stepdaughter from a previous marriage. In her will, she requested that the two marry within a week of her funeral. Mrs. Hayes was laid to rest on a Wednesday and the following Monday, her 35-year-old widowed husband and 21-year-old stepdaughter actually tied the knot.

Unusual Beneficiaries

From Leona Helmsley to many other eccentric celebrities, leaving a multi-million dollar estate to a beloved dog or cat is nothing new in history. What is most unusual is when a will maker leaves behind large sums of money or real estate to pythons, ferrets, cockatoos, marmosets, and even guppies. There is no end to the number of odd beneficiaries that belong to the wild animal kingdom.

Large Canine Bequeath

Eleanor Ritchey was heiress to the Quaker State Refining Corporation and has also gone down in history for leaving an extremely large amount of money to her dogs in 1968. She willed her entire fortune to her 150 dogs. The total amount was $4.5 million dollars. Of course, her family contested the will and an infamous court battle lingered on for five years. The dogs were actually represented by a well-known law firm in the South. An agreement was eventually reached. By that time, Ritchey’s escrow estate had ballooned to $14 million. 77 of the dogs had died of natural causes, making the surviving dogs considerably richer. The dog’s lawyers also capitalized.

A final settlement awarded the dogs $9 million, which meant that each canine received $123,287.67 each. The money would be used t pay for their housing, grooming, and food. The dogs were groomed on a weekly basis and underwent routine medical checkups. Eleanor Ritchey’s brothers and sisters were allowed to divide $2 million amongst themselves. The rest of the estate went towards paying for the fees of the dog’s owners.

Interestingly, the case did not officially end with the settlement agreement. The Florida Court pondered whether or not if a puppy sired by two of the dogs mating would be entitled to a piece of the fortune. Legally, the puppy would be entitled to money from the estate. In an effort to make sure the dogs stayed out of the courtroom with another trial, they were tattooed to establish a true identity and claim to the estate. They were also segregated by sex to prevent mating. When one of the dogs died, the estate transferred their share of the fortune to Auburn University, where the money went towards research into canine diseases.