Writing a Will can sometimes seem a daunting task, but you can make it wonderful by thinking about your wishes for others. Here are some strange and surprising Will inclusions to remind you that there are more than a few ways to leave your mark after life.
Leave a Bequest
If you’re thinking about the bigger picture, you might want to leave something in your last Will and testament that has a lasting impact on the lives of others. Leaving a bequest of specific assets to a charity, not-for-profit organisation or community group could be a good place to start. This is a donation gift passed to the selected organisation as part of your Will, either directed to a cause close to your heart or to generally help charities in carrying out their mission.
Plan a Posthumous Party
If you’ve got some cash to splash, why not guarantee a party in your honour? Legendary musician Janis Joplin did just that when she made changes to her Will mere days before her death. She set aside USD$2,500 (equivalent to around USD$16,000 today) to pay for a posthumous all-night party for 200 guests at her favourite pub. Her reason for footing the bill of the shindig in San Anselmo, California: “so my friends can get blasted after I’m gone”. Like we said, legendary.
There might be even more reasons to party if you left someone your birthday. That’s what Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson did to save his friend Annie H. Ide from a lifetime of Christmas Day birthdays - when her actual birthday happened to fall. “I charge her to use my said birthday with moderation and humanity”, the author instructed in his Will of the November 13th date. If you were thinking of leaving something far more personal than money or property to loved ones, your birthday could be it!
A Special Collection
It may not be all too surprising to discover that you can pass on entire collections of items that you may want one person to inherit. It might be a lifetime’s worth of vintage records or a meticulously curated selection of artworks. It might be that the value of the entire collection is worth far more than the sum of it's individual parts. You might have a fabulous wardrobe or jewellery collection that it would be a shame for someone else not to flaunt. You could even be lucky enough to have amassed a few collector cars or vehicles over your time that you would love for a family member or friend to have. These are all things you can leave in your Will.
Provide for your Pet
The pets in our lives are often more like family members, but it may still surprise you to learn that there are different ways you can ensure their provision in your Will. While you’re not able to leave your estate to your pet as a direct beneficiary in Australia, you can list a human beneficiary to lovingly inherit your pet and to receive assets under your Will on your pet’s behalf. To help ensure the pet is cared for, the pet can be left to the beneficiary together with a legacy for the pet’s maintenance or alternatively as a condition to that beneficiary receiving the legacy. If there is no willing carer for your fur baby, consider leaving your pet in the care of an animal welfare organisation such as the RSPCA or Animal Welfare League with a bequest to the organisation.
It’s not cash strictly speaking, but you might have unclaimed tickets lying around that could be turned into some. The inspiration for this comes from a sweet story of an elderly man who left instructions in his Will for his wife to investigate the contents of an envelope he left in a drawer. The widow found the envelope to be filled with years’ worth of lottery tickets that were all winning. A combination of tickets and scratch-offs amounted to around USD$9,000 – pretty lucky!
A Family Recipe
If you’re going to leave a legacy, it may as well be delicious. For many of us, recipes can represent the best of memories spent with loved ones and can be a way of sharing an intimate heirloom. Passing a recipe down through your Will is a fantastic way to ensure that it can continue to live on for generations to come.
Things for Strangers
If you’re feeling particularly generous, you might do as Louis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara did. In 2007, the Portuguese aristocrat left his entire estate to be inherited by 70 strangers. With no next of kin at the time of his death aged 42, he decided to leave his fortune to people chosen at random… through a phone book. They ended up enjoying his liquidated assets comprising two homes, one car, two motorbikes and the equivalent of USD$28,100 in cash. Phone books may not exist anymore, but you could probably find some random beneficiaries online.
Peace of Mind
Not exactly something you leave in your Will, but the Will itself. That’s because having the legal document that communicates how you want your assets distributed (including any extraordinary items) leaves a blueprint for how your loved ones can carry out your final wishes. That peace of mind is truly priceless.