Singer David Bowie’s wish to have his ashes scattered in a Buddhist ritual in Bali is the latest in a series of distinctive provisions in celebrities’ wills.
Other luminaries also left final instructions that had uncommon features.
Philip Seymour Hoffman wanted to provide for his children not only financially but culturally – and to him, that meant living in Manhattan, Chicago or San Francisco. The star of Capote, Doubt and The Master asked in his will that his offspring be brought up in these cities or at least visit them twice or more each year, to “be exposed to the culture, arts and architecture that such cities offer”.
Illusionist Harry Houdini, famed for his suspenseful escapes, expected death would provide him with his greatest act yet: He agreed with his wife a secret code to be used to communicate from beyond the grave.
His widow, Beatrice, tried to connect with his spirit at seances on the anniversary of his death but gave up after a decade: “Ten years is long enough to wait for any man,” she said.
As Benjamin Franklin parcelled out property ranging from land to printing materials to books in his will, he left his daughter a diamond-encrusted miniature portrait of France’s Louis XVI, a gift from the king.
But it came with a request that she not make the stones into jewellery “and thereby introduce or countenance the expensive, vain and useless fashion of wearing jewels in this country”.
Choreographer and director Bob Fosse left a special thank-you to 66 of his friends in the arts: $378.79 apiece to “go out and have dinner on me”. The beneficiaries – who included actors Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange “all have, at one time or another during my life, been very kind to me”, Fosse explained in his will.
The Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch rapped during his life that he wouldn’t “sell my songs for no TV ad”, and his will sought to make sure that pledge survived him. It specified that his music, image and name couldn’t be used for advertising.
Finally, hotel tycoon, convicted tax evader and Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley, earned new notoriety after her 2007 death, when the public learned that her will left $12 million to her dog, a Maltese named Trouble.
At JW Hinks, we know it isn’t just celebrities who leave specific or even unusual requests in their wills. Our Lifestyle Services team can provide you with comprehensive advice.
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