Thursday, November 6, 2014

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Wills are one of the most interesting documents in the history of mankind. Numerous movies and books were devoted to unusual wills or had a will as one of the main elements of the plot. Still the real history of wills holds more interesting examples of unusual wills. Some people preferred to be very short in their wills. The first two shortest wills belonged to Bimla Rishi of Delhi with his will, dated February 9, 1995, that contained only one phrase in Hindi - "all to son"; and to Karl Tausch whose January 19, 1967 will consisted of a phrase "all to wife". There is a number of famous wills that even made such impact that it can be felt today. The famous Nobel Prize was founded in Alfred Nobel's will. On the other hand, many notable people died without even having a will. Among them Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, James A. Garfield, Howard Hughes, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rocky Marciano, Tupac Shakur, Kurt Cobain, Buddy Holly, Lenny Bruce, Billie Holiday, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Cass Elliot, Sonny Bono, Tiny Tim, Karl Marx and Pablo Picasso. Another famous will case, the Estate of Kidd case involved a will found on the body of a deceased Arizona prospector who left his entire 0,000 estate "for research or some scientific proof of a soul of the human body which leaves at death. I think in time there can be a photograph of a soul leaving the human at death."

One of the most famous will cases belongs to Charles Vance Millar, a Canadian lawyer and financier, known as for his penchant and practical jokes and his unusual will that came to force after his death in 1926. The ninth clause of his will required that the balance of Millar's estate was to be converted to cash and given to the woman who gave birth to the most children in the 10 years following Millar's death. In case of a tie the bequest would be divided equally. This triggered the event known as the Great Stork Derby. In the following ten years many women in Toronto started to get pregnant as fast as possible. In 1936 the winning mothers were Annie Katherine Smith, Kathleen Ellen Nagle, Lucy Alice Timleck and Isabel Mary Maclean, they had nine children each and each received 5,000. Two more women: Lillian Kenny (ten children, but two stillborn) and Pauline Mae Clarke (ten children, but several illegitimate), received ,500 out of court. During the ten years of the Great Stork Derby, the Supreme Court of Canada attempted to invalidate the will as being contrary to public policy and Millars distant relatives also tried to have it declared invalid. But Millar had it very well prepared and the will survived ten years of litigation. Also because of his long-term investments with the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, Millers estate increased drastically during the 10 years, and was worth 0,000 when it was finally liquidated.

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