Where There’s a Will…

Moose Jaw Express.com - - Front Page -

I do not have one and I am will­ing to bet that I am not alone in that sta­tus be­cause close to 70% of North Amer­i­cans do not have wills. Last Wills and Tes­ta­ments are the last thing most folks want to think about re­gard­ing the last thing, but there are many ex­am­ples of wacky, weird and some­times out­ra­geous clauses in wills. Crazy wills are a lot more com­mon than you would think and lawyers around the world are kept busy (and wealthy) ar­gu­ing about last will clauses or even the wills them­selves. For the most part, wills and es­tates with lit­tle value are not con­tested or ques­tioned as much as the big buck ones so when a wacky will worth mil­lions arises it is of­ten scru­ti­nized in-depth. A will can demon­strate, once and for all, how some­one val­ues wealth, fam­ily, friends, char­i­ties and more of­ten than not pets… it is writ­ten there in black and white for all to see. At one time, she was called the “Queen of Mean”. Leona Helm­s­ley spent her last few years do­nat­ing mil­lions of dol­lars to char­ity which raised some eye­brows, but when she left her Mal­tese dog 12 mil­lion dol­lars, the eye­brows could not get higher. She is not the first mil­lion­aire to leave for­tunes to their pets; to­bacco heiress Doris Duke be­queathed a trust fund of over 100 mil­lion dol­lars for her twenty dogs and it was con­tested in court for over ten years only to be up­held. Of course, by the time the case was set­tled there were only 2 dogs left. My own per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of a funny clause in a will was when my brother Doug passed away af­ter a lin­ger­ing in­cur­able ill­ness. When he was given about a year to last, he wisely be­gan to get his af­fairs in or­der, in­clud­ing his will. He wanted his wake to be a true cel­e­bra­tion of his life with his friends and fam­ily and I of­fered to cover the cost of beer for this event be­fore he died. At that time, I was a “big shot” with a pop­u­lar Cal­gary brew­ery (Big Rock) and it would have been free beer for all, ex­cept for a clause in my comedic brother’s will that stated, ”No Big Rock beer was to be served at his wake”. My big mouth and his sense of hu­mour cost me about $600, but I would pay a hun­dred thou­sand times that much to have a beer with him again. Ha ha lit­tle brother! You got me, but you buy the next round! When 60’s rock and blues singer Ja­nis Jo­plin changed her will two days be­fore she died, she in­cluded a bud­get of $2500 for her wake to be held at her fa­vorite bar. A quote from her will states, “I want my wake to cost 2500 dol­lars so my friends can get blasted when I’m gone”. She died of an over­dose two days later and one won­ders if she knew her fu­ture…and if her guests did get blasted on a bud­get. Star Trek cre­ator Gene Rod­den­berry wanted to go where no man has gone be­fore and he got his op­por­tu­nity af­ter he died. Writ­ten in his will was the de­sire to have his ashes spread in space and two years later, the tech­nol­ogy was avail­able and his ashes, along with 22 oth­ers in­clud­ing 60’s drug guru Ti­mothy Leary, were re­leased in a space cap­sule that was de­signed to burn out as it re-en­tered the at­mos­phere. The spread­ing of ashes is be­com­ing more pop­u­lar, as the cost of burial plots con­tin­ues to rise. The spread­ing of ashes in un­usual ways and places will be meth­ods of hav­ing some sort of unique­ness about the event. Fu­neral providers now have biodegrad­able urns that will float for a few mo­ments then sink and “melt” for a wa­ter re­lease or biodegrad­able urns that will sprout a tree seedling. The prob­lem with a tree grow­ing from your ashes is that some­one may de­cide they need fire­wood. There are many other op­tions for hav­ing your ashes spread but in or­der for you to get full value you should spell things out in your will af­ter some thought…like what kind of tree would you like to be? I am think­ing about how I can make my will a fun and ex­cit­ing doc­u­ment but I have no money to speak of and all my guitars will go to my wife. I just hope that she does not find out how much I spent on them, or…will…she.

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