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Last will and testament | Getty Images
Last will and testament | Getty Images

People Reveal the Craziest Wills They Ever Saw

Salwa Nadeem
May 15, 2024
12:57 A.M.
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From disowning a child to secretly leaving everything to a stranger, people have written many unexpected things in their wills that are only revealed to their family members after their demise. Many times, people have used this closing act to take revenge on their loved ones.

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With age, many people tend to think about what would happen to their loved ones after death. They know there's only much they can do to support them, and with that comes the thought of writing a will. The final document decides what would happen to their assets and property after their death.

A document with the title "Last Will and Testament" | Source: Shutterstock

A document with the title "Last Will and Testament" | Source: Shutterstock

Many people write their will when they are healthy and doing fine, but others do it after the doctors tell them they don't have much time to live. Some divide their assets into parts and leave them for their close ones, while others write something unpredictable that shocks their family.

Netizens on Reddit shared some of the craziest and most bizarre things people wrote in their wills. Many of their family members had no idea what was coming their way.

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Comments have been edited for clarity and grammar.

1. The Unexpected Trust Fund

A fish in a fishbowl | Source: Pexels

A fish in a fishbowl | Source: Pexels

u/scarlett_pimpernel: I am a qualified solicitor. A lady wanted to create a trust fund of £100,000 for her pet fish. When I asked if it was a particular type of fish, she confirmed it was just an ordinary goldfish.

She wanted it to be fed fresh avocado daily and looked after by a local dog walker after she died. She was absolutely serious.

2. No One Knows about Her

An older woman looking at a young girl | Source: Shutterstock

An older woman looking at a young girl | Source: Shutterstock

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u/scarlett_pimpernel: Another lady confessed she had a secret daughter and wanted to leave the daughter some money and photographs without the rest of her family finding out. Even her husband does not know. That will be a fun conversation when she passes away.

3. The Lucky Man

A bus driver | Source: Shutterstock

A bus driver | Source: Shutterstock

u/mommy5dearest: I worked at an attorney's office, and a little older lady gave her house and belongings to a bus driver.

She did it because he was nice to her and would help her. We were all waiting for hell to break loose when her family found out.

Her family can contest it. I was a witness to the signing. She seemed fine and knew the answers to the questions, so she wasn't having mental problems as far as we could tell.

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4. The Interesting Clause

A lawyer talking to a man | Source: Shutterstock

A lawyer talking to a man | Source: Shutterstock

u/WanderCold: I was in my early twenties when I was forced to write a will because of the health insurance I got at work. I discussed it with the in-house lawyer, who approved this specific clause to be added to my will.

The clause read, "My funeral wishes are that I should be buried in a coffin which has been springloaded, such that opening the coffin would cause alarm to future archeologists."

Then, a bunch of stuff about if this is too costly, I'd be cremated and have my ashes scattered in a specific place.

5. Don't Forget My Horse!

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A woman riding a horse | Source: Shutterstock

A woman riding a horse | Source: Shutterstock

u/gabberrella24: I work in probate. The oddest thing I've seen in a will is to euthanize their beloved horse, have it cremated, and its ashes scattered with the decedent.

Lucky for her horse, she named a horse that was already dead when she passed away, so the one she got afterward lived to see another farm.

6. A List of Strange Wills

A dog sleeping on a bed | Source: Shutterstock

A dog sleeping on a bed | Source: Shutterstock

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u/PirateRobotNinjaofDe: Lots of people send their friends and family on weird errands to spread their ashes (leaving money for people to take trips and spread their ashes around the world).

Pet trusts are a fun one. People leave a whole whack of money in a trust to be used for the care of their pets during their life.

However, my favorite ever (that I obviously didn't draft) was a lawyer who left the bulk of his estate (millions in today's dollars) to whatever Toronto-area woman had the most children at a specific date some years later. I recall the winner had 10.

7. My Grandfather's Wish

An older woman standing near a window | Source: Shutterstock

An older woman standing near a window | Source: Shutterstock

u/snoboreddotcom: A few hours after my grandfather's death, my grandmother came to me with a navy-blue tie featuring pink elephants.

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Ridiculous looking, but she said he wore it to intimidate people in business, as someone willing to wear such a ridiculous tie doesn't care about what people think. That scares people. He wanted me to have it so I could do the same.

8. Different Wishes

A woman signing a documents | Source: Shutterstock

A woman signing a documents | Source: Shutterstock

u/ALighterShadeOfPale: I work for a lawyer who does wills. We've had a lady put in her will that one of her adult sons would receive his share when he visited a dentist, and the other son would get it if he lost 70lbs.

Another lady put in her will that she wanted her cats cremated with her when she died. We told her that would not happen since human and animal remains are not cremated together. So, she settled on cremated separately and joined together, then buried together.

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9. The Long Will

Close-up of a document with the title "Last Will and Testament" | Source: Shutterstock

Close-up of a document with the title "Last Will and Testament" | Source: Shutterstock

u/ALighterShadeOfPale: Typically, wills are about ten pages long (for an average person), but a woman once wrote 56 pages.

She detailed EVERYTHING from her house to people. For example, she wrote, "wooden ladle to ____, toilet paper holder to ____, magazine basket to ____." She did this for every single item in her house.

10. She Wanted to Be with Her Husband

A small house between trees | Source: Pexels

A small house between trees | Source: Pexels

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u/ALighterShadeOfPale: A lady told us to put in her will that she wanted to be buried on her property next to her husband. She lived on a small rural property.

It's totally illegal to have human remains buried there. She refused to tell us whether her husband was cremated or not and said she did not want to be cremated.

Edit: Her husband had died 5 or 6 years prior. So, it's not as though it was 50 years ago when things like that may have been a little overlooked.

11. Some Good People

A person signing a document | Source: Shutterstock

A person signing a document | Source: Shutterstock

u/ALighterShadeOfPale: We had a man put in his will that his family was to go to the zoo immediately after his burial (that day). We thought that was heartwarming.

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Besides that, we work with many people from a particular religion. Many people we write wills for leave at least 90% of their estates to the church instead of their families.

12. The Elvis Impersonator

A young man smiling | Source: Shutterstock

A young man smiling | Source: Shutterstock

u/whatshisfaceboy: I'm not a lawyer, but I have this story of my rich uncle. He would visit us when we were kids, maybe once every ten years. The last time he did, he brought us to a Denny's.

When he died, he had no friends. Besides that, his wife died due to substance abuse, and that was because of him. He left his entire estate to an Elvis impersonator. Everything.

13. The Only Beneficiary

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A person holding money | Source: Shutterstock

A person holding money | Source: Shutterstock

u/AnotherDrunkCanadian: I used to work at a bank in the estate department. I was an administrator who had to manage the files, including encroachments upon the capital, i.e., "I want to take some money out now, please."

I had this one account - a multi-million-dollar trust for one single beneficiary - the son of the deceased. Everything about the account looked fine until I learned the child was behind his parents' death and pleaded insanity.

He was in a mental hospital and called the bank once a year requesting $50 for commissary (to buy chips and gum).

The call was always strange. He was very polite, but the quality of the call made it sound like he was far away from the phone.

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14. They Wanted to Take Revenge

A cat sitting behind a curtain | Source: Pexels

A cat sitting behind a curtain | Source: Pexels

u/Dr_BrOneil: Last week, I handled a matter where the parents left millions in artwork to various people and wads of cash to various charities. Meanwhile, their kids got the family cats as revenge.

It turned out they did it because the kids got them the cats to comfort the parents in their old age. The parents hated the cats, but the kids wouldn't let them get rid of them.

15. No One Knew about Their Wealth

A jar of coins | Source: Pexels

A jar of coins | Source: Pexels

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u/SirMaximusPowers: This one isn't necessarily crazy, just an interesting glimpse into the mind of a kind older woman in her 90s.

My aunt and uncle (both were more like parents and wonderful people) passed away within a few weeks of one another.

When my uncle became ill, the aunt tried to work on a will with her long-term lawyer, but she was old and out of it.

Her main concern the entire time was small knick-knacks like a jar of pennies she wanted a distant cousin to have or a used jacket from the 70s she bequeathed to a sister-in-law.

It was quite touching how much time she spent carefully considering each item and who would get it. Most of the items were used and didn't hold any sentimental value. She just wanted them to go to good homes.

Everyone knew who was getting each odd item when she passed away. The real kicker is when the lawyer tells the primary beneficiaries that she never got around to the bigger assets.

She basically told the lawyer, "Pay for our funeral and anything we owe. Then, family members x, y, and z can figure out the rest."

It ended up being millions in homes, lakefront property, jewelry, antique firearms, vehicles, life insurance policies, stocks, bonds, gold coins, etc.

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Luckily, the family was very close, and everything went off without a hitch. They were amazing people who wanted to keep family items in the family.

They just didn't put that much weight on their incredible wealth. They also hid their wealth amazingly. We all knew they were very comfortable, but no one knew they were deep into eight-figure assets.

It was just funny to see a random niece get a set of plastic cups, worn dance shoes, and a check for $125,000.

16. He Wanted to Give Them Something

An older man walking on a street | Source: Shutterstock

An older man walking on a street | Source: Shutterstock

u/gaurddog: My great uncle's official will stated that the contents of his outhouse would go to the City Council of a nearby town after they had tried to take his land twice to build a new water treatment plant.

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He spent several years fighting eminent domain claims and wanted to give them something in return. As a joke, his kids boxed up all the books and magazines in the outhouse and dropped them off at City Hall.

17. The Man Was Clueless

A man leaning against a taxi | Source: Pexels

A man leaning against a taxi | Source: Pexels

u/[deleted]: I am not a lawyer but work for a will writers/trusts specialist in the UK, currently studying toward my TEP.

One of our earlier clients passed away recently. Turns out the man she left almost everything to, including the residue of her estate--which was considerable--was her regular taxi driver.

She had also named him as her executor. He had no clue. The woman named as her executor and primary beneficiary in her previous two wills, a close friend of many years, was understandably flabbergasted and contested the will.

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We responded to her solicitor's Larke v Nugus request, informed Mr. Taxi Driver (who didn't even know our client had passed), and the will was upheld.

The friend mentioned above was left a legacy of £5,000 if I remember correctly, but her nose was clearly out of joint.

Bonus observation: It takes a lot less than £ 5,000 being up for grabs to make families turn against each other. It can get really nasty. This is one of the most startling things I've learned in my short time in this business.

18. My Grandmother's Will

A woman writing in a notebook | Source: Shutterstock

A woman writing in a notebook | Source: Shutterstock

u/Cocoah83: I'm the executor of my grandmother's will. I also get the house and everything in it and a share of life insurance split three ways between myself, my sister, and my mom.

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My mom has always said that all my dad, my grandmother's son-in-law, would like to have is a table. Well, in the will, there's a whole paragraph that states how my dad gets nothing.

He doesn't lay a finger on anything in the house or money. How my dad is basically worthless and deserves nothing, and how he was a terrible dad, and that she begrudgingly has my mom in the will. Thanks, Grandma. I'll appreciate the awkwardness.

19. Something for Everyone

A bowl full of chocolates | Source: Pexels

A bowl full of chocolates | Source: Pexels

u/[deleted]: I'm not a lawyer, but my grandpa put in his will a chocolate bar for every one of his grandkids. Well, I have around 12 cousins, and it took a lot of work to track down where a couple of them went.

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All his estates and money in his will were at a standstill for months because they couldn't find my cousins. We had to show the court we put in effort to hire someone to track them down, etc.

The lawyer helping execute the will was blown away that this lawyer allowed this and why he wouldn't highly suggest not to do it. But I'm not complaining cause I got a Toblerone out of the deal!

20. I Got a Dollar

A person holding a one-dollar bill | Source: Pexels

A person holding a one-dollar bill | Source: Pexels

u/Killallthemods: My grandfather left me $1.00. He had dementia and was confused that my dad would rip him off with me.

He left the rest of the family between $100,000 and a few million each. They all said they felt horrible because they knew the details but didn't feel horrible enough to give up any of their shares.

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The way I see it, it was never my money to begin with, so it's not a loss. I'm just glad my sister got a hundred thousand. She needed it more than any of the others.

21. My Grandmother's Last Wish

An older woman looking at herself in the mirror | Source: Shutterstock

An older woman looking at herself in the mirror | Source: Shutterstock

u/FairyFlossFairy: My grandmother got breast implants in her 60s, and there's nothing wrong with that. The issue was with her wish.

She wanted to show off her implants by having an open casket at her funeral. She passed away at 80 and got what she wanted.

However, my grandfather did what he could and strategically placed daisies near the casket to minimize the display. She got what she wanted, and so did my grandfather.

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22. The Hideous Socks

A person wearing Christmas-themed socks | Source: Pexels

A person wearing Christmas-themed socks | Source: Pexels

u/angelusmortis94: My great-grandfather had a pair of socks that he only wore on Christmas day with the family. They were hideous.

After he passed, we found out he left those socks to my uncle in his will and told him to carry on the tradition, which my uncle did. He already told me I'm getting them next.

23. The Specific Wish

Close-up of the U.S. flag on a soldier's uniform | Source: Shutterstock

Close-up of the U.S. flag on a soldier's uniform | Source: Shutterstock

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u/Kumahito: Military lawyer here. I had a young client come in for a will before deployment. He made a request to be buried in blue jeans, a Chris Jericho t-shirt, and his replica WWE championship belt. Happily, this airman didn't meet any misfortune on his deployment.

24. The Truth Was Out

A lawyer sitting in his office | Source: Pexels

A lawyer sitting in his office | Source: Pexels

u/Queenlmb: The two sons of a wealthy couple go to the family lawyer to have the will read. The lawyer is super nervous - he has known them both since they were kids.

One son gets the entire inheritance, and the other gets nothing. The explanation was that it should be passed through to blood relatives only. So that was the day he found out he was adopted.

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25. The Lucky Cat

A cat sitting in a basket | Source: Pexels

A cat sitting in a basket | Source: Pexels

u/NWBoomer: The local newspaper ran a story with pictures of a house that was left to a cat when the owner died. The cat was the only occupant.

The woman's lawyer maintained the house for the cat from the deceased owner's trust fund. I always wondered if there might have been a little motivation to hasten the kitty's demise.

26. My Parents Changed Their Will

A woman reading a document with one hand on her mouth | Source: Shutterstock

A woman reading a document with one hand on her mouth | Source: Shutterstock

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u/hangry_lady: I knew my parents had recently changed their will, and I happened to find a copy of the new one, so I snooped.

In the document, I am named by my maiden name even though my sister, who is also married (I was married six months before her), is quoted by her married name.

It’s been really bothering me. I've been married for over a decade with children, and our marriage has never been in jeopardy. It makes me wonder if my parents were angry with my husband at the time.

27. The Lady across the Street

A happy woman standing with her arms folded across her chest | Source: Shutterstock

A happy woman standing with her arms folded across her chest | Source: Shutterstock

u/NeverCriticize: When my dad was growing up, there was this little old lady across the street without any family. She was from Finland, and her husband died during WW2.

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She immigrated to the States and had no one, so my grandparents would knock on her door to chat, take her grocery shopping, etc.

They made my dad and his brother help around her house/yard, etc. She loved my dad and uncle and treated them like her own kids, giving cookies, treats, and presents.

When Dad was in Vietnam, she would record voice messages on tapes and send them to him with letters telling him what life was like in the neighborhood and how she hoped he’d be home safe soon, that she prayed for him, etc.

When he came home, he’d stop by to chat and help out around the house, bring her macaroons, and just sit and talk for a while.

One day, Ms. Lingard died, and a lawyer called my grandparents. She had left them a sizable amount of cash, stock, and her (paid-off) house to my dad and his brother.

My family had thought she was penniless. Never underestimate how much little, simple things can mean to people. You just might be one of the best things in their life.

28. The Example in My Book

Silhouette of a man reading a book in a library | Source: Pexels

Silhouette of a man reading a book in a library | Source: Pexels

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u/DoctorDanDrangus: "To my wife, I leave her lover and the knowledge that I was never the fool she thought me. To my son, I leave the pleasure of working for a living for 25 years. He thought the pleasure was all mine." --- Best insult ever.

This was in my Wills & Trusts book in law school as an example of people writing weird things in their wills (you're supposed to discourage them as lawyers from doing so).

29. The Best Will Story

Close-up of a clock | Source: Pexels

Close-up of a clock | Source: Pexels

u/chronos56: This is the best will story I personally know of. The father had a valuable antique Grandfather Clock, and he also had two daughters. His solution?

If I die on an even day, daughter A gets the clock. If it is an odd day, daughter B receives it. The daughter who did not get the clock got an equivalent cash award based on the value of the clock. I know of the event because I had to service the clock several times over the years.

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30. The Widowed Farmer

A man walking on a farm | Source: Pexels

A man walking on a farm | Source: Pexels

u/nerdychick19: Our client, a widowed farmer, owned several heavy equipment, including Caterpillar trucks. He had two sons working at the farm and a daughter working in the city.

He willed the heavy equipment to the daughter. When asked why, since the equipment was essential to the farm, he said that the farm was to go to his kids equally, but his girl needed to know he always wanted her to join their venture and dispel her notions of alienation because she was a girl.

31. The Doctor's Will

An older man talking on his phone | Source: Shutterstock

An older man talking on his phone | Source: Shutterstock

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u/TyroneSuave: Lawyer here. I once amended a will for a doctor in which he disinherited his son by removing everything he had intended to bequeath and replacing it with a "manure spreader."

I didn't ask any questions because changing a will is an easy thing to do. But one day, that doctor will die, and his son will essentially be told that he got a manure spreader.

32. They Were Shocked

An older man standing in an office | Source: Shutterstock

An older man standing in an office | Source: Shutterstock

u/[deleted]: One client left a specific gift of $10K to one son and left him out of the per stripes division of the residual estate, which was sizable at the time the will was drafted.

This was intended as a serious disinheritance, which he always talked about to make the disfavored son feel bad. However, things soon took a different turn.

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By the time he died, he had a reversal of fortune, and his estate was about $10K, so he effectively disinherited the "good" children and left the black sheep everything.

The "bad" kid appeared very poor compared to the others, and the look of grateful surprise on the poor kid's face was almost as priceless as the shock on the others who thought they were getting rich.

33. He Had Two Families

A woman standing with her hand on her mouth | Source: Shutterstock

A woman standing with her hand on her mouth | Source: Shutterstock

u/PrivateEyesWatchingU: My estate planning professor told us about a guy with two families, neither of whom knew about the other until it was time to read the will. This wasn't like a love child/mistress type scenario.

Both were nuclear multi-kid families. Both families showed up for what had to be one of the most awkward will readings in history. I don't really know how he pulled it off other than that he was away on "business" frequently.

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34. My Grandfather's Neighbor

An angry older man | Source: Shutterstock

An angry older man | Source: Shutterstock

u/kooknboo: My grandfather hated his neighbor. They lived next to each other for 20+ years. I remember my grandfather raging at every opportunity about this guy.

We never saw them speak to each other. My grandfather left the guy $10k, a car, and golf clubs. We were dumbstruck.

35. Three Kids

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An older woman sitting on a couch | Source: Shutterstock

An older woman sitting on a couch | Source: Shutterstock

u/Veritas3333: A woman had three kids. Two were okay, but the third cared for her for years until she died. The mom wanted to give most of her money to the kid who put their life on hold to care for her.

So, her will basically stated to liquefy all assets, give $100k each to the other kids, then everything else to the kid that helped her.

The only problem was that her assets totaled about $225,000 after all her healthcare expenses. Dying is expensive! So, her favorite kid got $25k, while the other two got $100,000.

If her lawyer had written the will with percentages, her favorite kid would have gotten more like she wanted, but because they used concrete numbers, that had to be handed out.

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36. The Woman Knew What to Do

A stressed woman sitting with her eyes closed | Source: Shutterstock

A stressed woman sitting with her eyes closed | Source: Shutterstock

u/ValBravora048: There was a woman from a very conservative family who had a live-in female "companion." She had a lot of money from a previous marriage and was very unwell.

She could not leave it to her companion because same-sex partnerships weren't recognized in either marriage or defacto status back then.

However, she could leave money for the carer of a pet, including living expenses for the duration of the pet's lifetime. The family agreed not to contest the will on this because how long could an animal live?

It was better than people finding out the SCANDALOUS truth! There were even documents showing where they felt they were being very generous about the whole thing.

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Remember how she was rich? In a clever move, she imported a specific breed of tortoise that can live well past 100 and needs minimal care.

The stipend for the tortoise kept her partner quite well looked after for the remainder of her years. The family couldn't contest it because they'd shoot any chance of money in the far future after agreeing to terms.

37. The Gravy Boat

A coffin decorated with flowers | Source: Shutterstock

A coffin decorated with flowers | Source: Shutterstock

u/Applejuiceinthehall: Not a lawyer, but a pre-law school friend said he wants to have two kids, and when he dies, he will be cremated, and the ashes will be used to make a gravy boat.

Then he will give the gravy boat to one of the kids, and they will have to figure out if that makes them the favorite.

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38. The Son Was Shocked

An angry man talking on his phone | Source: Shutterstock

An angry man talking on his phone | Source: Shutterstock

u/darkmattermomma: Oh man, I have a story, obligatory, not a lawyer. My great-grandfather worked on a man's farm for about 20 years, never missed a day, and always stayed late.

The farm owner's son was arrogant, spoiled at the thought of a made life, and treated the workers like garbage. When the owner died, my great-grandfather was called to the will reading, which he thought was strange, but of course he went.

The farmer's son sat at the table, all smug at his inheritance, only to have the lawyer read that my great-grandad had actually inherited the farm, all equipment, and any estate money.

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I wish that portable cameras were popular back then, so I could've seen his face, but the lawyer's family still works for us, and they say he really enjoyed reading that part.

39. Disowning a Child

A woman visiting an older man in a hospital room | Source: Shutterstock

A woman visiting an older man in a hospital room | Source: Shutterstock

u/Miss-Impossible: "Reading the will" isn't a thing here. You just call the notary, they check the national register, and the family comes in for a meeting to discuss matters.

The saddest one for me was the longest-living parent passing away, changing their last will on their deathbed a few days before their death.

They disowned one of their children because of their sexual orientation. It completely destroyed the children left behind AND their family relationship.

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They were thick as thieves, and this incident destroyed their bond, broken beyond repair. I tried to mediate as best I could, but it got so ugly.

40. Hidden Fortune

The last will and testament | Getty Images

The last will and testament | Getty Images

Deleted user: So, my grandma, bless her heart, lived in this old, run-down trailer for years. Dirt poor, but you wouldn't know it by the way my husband acted.

He was like a cat on a hot tin roof, waiting for her to pass. He had this wild notion in his head that grandma was sitting on a hidden fortune and that he’d inherit a ticket to Easy Street when she kicked the bucket. Cut to the will reading day.

My husband's practically rubbing his hands together, telling me, "Sugar, put on a smile, we're about to be rolling in dough." We get there, and the lawyer's all business, asking, "Who's the ‘husband’ there?" My guy steps up: “That’s me. Is there a problem?”

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Then my jaw hitting the floor. The Lawyer: Not at all...The last will of grandma states that the grandma has a hidden fortune. However, it's to be inherited by the husband only if he fulfills three specific conditions. Otherwise, the entire estate goes to the local animal shelter."

First, he must live for a year in her old trailer, maintaining it without any modern upgrades or outside help. Second, he's required to volunteer at the animal shelter every weekend for the next two years.

And finally, he must write a personal essay on the value of humility and compassion, to be read publicly at the shelter's annual fundraiser.

My husband's face turned from greedy anticipation to utter disbelief. Grandma sure knew how to teach a lesson from beyond the grave!

A man signing a document | Source: Pexels

A man signing a document | Source: Pexels

These stories shared by Redditors prove that being a part of someone's will can make your life better or destroy it forever. It only takes a few sentences to change people's lives if one decides to mention them in their will. What's the most bizarre thing you have ever read in someone's will or heard about? We would love to know about it.

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