5 Ingenious Wills Created Mostly For Revenge 0

A skeleton takes his revenge

Death! Suffering! Elaborate old-timey insults! Sure, you can make a will for nice, kind reasons. Support your family. Choose a home for your cat. Give to charities. But why do that, when you can settle some old scores? Stay tuned for five wills that served up a revenge as cold as the grave…

1) The legacy of bitterness

Wellington boots or wellington burts
Unverified sighting of Wellington Burt in the wild.

Michigan lumber tycoon and owner of a pun-worthy name, Wellington Burt died in 1919 with a hefty fortune under his belt (or should we say, tucked into his Wellington Burts?). A multimillionaire philanthropist in life, Burt was expected to make his family and his town very wealthy indeed upon his death.

But it wasn’t to be: reputedly smarting from a nasty family spat, Burt instead left the bulk of his fortune in a trust fund, not to be opened until 21 years after the death of his last grandchild. 

As the years went by, Burt’s six children, seven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and 11 great-great grandchildren have all died without seeing a penny. Meanwhile, the trust fund has grown to an estimated $100m. Relatives who finally inherited in 2011 described it as a “legacy of bitterness,” having watched family members pass away still fruitlessly hoping to claim that fortune.

Heinrich Heine on his deathbed
Heinrich Heine reflecting on his choices.

2) The final regret

For 15 years, German essayist and poet Heinrich Heine had a very volatile relationship with his wife, Mathilde. But when he fell ill, she stayed at his bedside to the very end – and received a somewhat ambiguous reward.

Heine left Mathilde a legacy, alright, but only if she remarried. His reasoning? “Because then, at least one man will regret my death.” Ouch.

3) The father-in-law’s revenge

Son-in-laws: can’t live with them, can’t guilt someone into putting shelves up around the house without them. In 1908, Garvey P. White’s used his will to take a parting shot at his daughter’s unfortunate husband:

“Before anything else is to be done, 50 cents is to be given to my son-in-law to enable himself to buy a good strong rope with which to hang himself, and thus rid mankind of one of the most infamous scoundrels that ever roamed this broad land or lived outside a penitentiary.”

One has to wonder what the son-in-law did to deserve it.

Bath Abbey
Not pictured: vengeful bellringers.

4) The bells, the bells

Another disgruntled husband here: Colonel Charles Nash used his will to leave an annuity of $50 to the bellringers of Bath Abbey. 

But there were conditions: the bellringers had to clang out a mournful funerary toll on the anniversary of his marriage. They also had to ring the bells merrily on the anniversary of his death – celebrating his liberation from married life.

5) The deadly legacy

In the wrong hands, a will can be a dangerous thing. One Munich-based gentleman had a seemingly harmless stipulation in his will: the wake had to be held in an upstairs room of his house. 

But when family and friends arrived and gathered around the coffin, the entire floor came down – killing almost everyone present. It later turned out that the man had painstakingly sawed most of the way through the beams of his house. Perhaps he didn’t want to be seen dead in their company.

Beyond mascot takes n otes while sitting in a chair.Make your own vengeful will today

Have your own score to settle? You can make a will today on Beyond in just 15 minutes. It costs just £90, or £135 if you and your partner would like to plan your vengeance together. Start making your will today.

Don’t forget! Pay 20% more for your vengeful will using the offer code VENGEANCEISMINE at checkout – you big meanie.

 

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5 Excellent Reasons Why Every Parent Should Make a Will 0

A mum makes her will online with her two children

As a busy parent, death probably isn’t on your mind all that often.

Yes, young children do have an eerie ability to find and eat/climb/touch the one thing in any given place that will kill them. And yes, stepping on an abandoned Lego brick may, on occasion, make you feel like death is the preferable option. 

But death, and wills, often take a backseat to more immediate problems. Like giving lifts (so many lifts) and prising the Lego out of your feet.

That’s a mistake. For parents, making a will is one of the most important things you can do for your family. Here’s why!

 

5 reasons every parent should make a will

Half term is over. After a week of juggling a full house, you finally have some time to yourself. Why not take 15 minutes to make your will? After all, you can…

 

1) Choose guardians

If you were to die tomorrow, who would you want to raise your children?

The obvious choice isn’t always the best one. The grandparents are an option – but kids can be exhausting, even for young sprightly people. You also might have siblings, but how close do they live? Who actually feels the same way as you about things like discipline, religion, medical care and education? 

With a will, you get to pick guardians for your children in case something happens to you. That way, someone you trust will raise your kids the way you’d like them to be raised. 

 

2) Protect a partner

Can your partner pay rent without your help? Or the mortgage? Would they be able to afford child care without your salary in the mix?

If the answer is ‘no’, a will is essential. Why?

If you and your partner aren’t married, they aren’t automatically entitled to any of your estate when you die. 3.3 million couples in the UK are cohabiting without that ring on the finger. If you’re one of them, you’ll need a will to make sure your partner would inherit anything from you.

If you and your partner are married, they STILL won’t necessarily get everything! They’re entitled to the first £270,000, all your belongings, plus half of whatever is left over (the rest goes to your kids). 

This might seem fine and dandy. But there’s a real benefit to leaving your whole estate to your spouse: anything you give them can’t be taken in inheritance tax. Spending just £90 on a will could save your family thousands.

 

3) Protect your children

You might not want your partner to get everything if you die. After all, while we might like to imagine them mourning us forever, casting a single rose on our grave every day and never loving again, there’s a good chance your partner will find someone else – making their new partner their heir. 

So, you might prefer to leave a decent portion of your estate to your children: a little untouchable nest egg that spouse 2.0 won’t be able to touch. 

Similarly, your parents may well need care as they grow older. Without a will, they don’t have a claim to your estate unless you’re unmarried with no kids. You could set aside some funds to help them manage.

 

4) Prevent family disputes

No one wants their legacy to be a really bitter fight between their relatives. Least of all parents, after years of threatening to turn the car around if the kids don’t. stop. bickering. 

With a will, you can make your wishes clear, and make sure everything is fair, too.

If there’s a family heirloom that would be better off with your sister than your partner, you can pass that on: fight prevented. 

If you’re a step-parent, you might want to make sure your step-children get the same benefits as your biological children. Without a will, step-kids have no automatic claim to your estate, even if you’ve been acting as their parent for years.

 

5) And remember: it’s never too early

A lot of us put off making a will. Plenty of time for that later. But when you’re a parent, the consequences of dying without a will can be particularly painful for those left behind. And according to Child Bereavement UK, a parent of a child under 18 dies every 22 minutes in the UK – that’s around 23,600 people a year.

With a will, you can safeguard your family’s future, whatever happens.

 

Make a will today

It takes just 15 minutes to make a will with Beyond. Simply click here and answer our simple questions about your wishes, and we’ll turn them into a legally binding will. All you have to do is print and sign.

Make your will

A simple will with a traditional solicitor costs between £150 and £500. At Beyond, it costs just £90 for a single will and £135 if you make yours with a partner. And for just £10 a year, you can get unlimited wills: that means that whenever something in your life changes, you can update your will quickly and easily. Perfect for growing families.

Can you leave it all to your cat? Pet beneficiaries explained 0

A cat who has been left an estate in a will

Somewhere in Germany, there is a dog with more money than most of us could ever dream of. 

Gunther IV, the world's richest dog
The real Gunther IV at home.

Gunther IV owns property in three countries. He spends afternoons by his private pool. He summers in the Bahamas. He has a butler, and a maid, and a limo. He apparently lives with a team of supermodels.

Gunther IV has all this because German Countess Karlotta Leibenstein left her entire $80 million fortune to her dog, Gunther III. Who left it to his son.

Now, most pet owners would deem this a bit extreme. After years of letting the cat out, and in, and out again (ad nauseum), he really owes you — right?

But some of us do wonder: could I do that?

 

Can you leave your entire fortune to your pet(s)?

If you’re reading this in the UK, the answer is … sort of.

You can’t directly leave all your money to your cat, or dog, like you would a normal human beneficiary. In UK law, a pet is a possession, not a person (don’t look at me like that, I don’t make the rules).

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make sure your furry (or feathered, or scaly) friend will live in style without you. Here are the options.

 

The popular choice: Pet guardians

If you’re a parent, you can use your will to choose legal guardians for your kids, just in case. A lot of people know about this. 

Don’t forget to show the guardian your chin-scratching technique.

What they don’t know is that you can do the same thing with your pets. 

It’s a standard service we offer here at Beyond. When you make your will, you can pick someone to take in your beloved pet. Someone you trust to give them the love (and constant door opening) they need. 

You can also leave your chosen guardian funds and equipment to help them in their new role of pet-parent. After all, pets can be pricey. The lifetime cost of owning a cat is £17,000, and dogs can cost us up to £31,000 over the years.

For most people, the pet guardian option is perfect (purrfect?). It means your pet will go to a loving home, rather than a shelter. And it prevents vicious family debates over their eventual fate.

But for others, something more tail-ored is required.

On Beyond, it costs just £90 to make a will that protects your pets. That’s hundreds less than most traditional solicitors! Click here to make your will with us today.

 

The full-throttle option: Pet trusts

Pet trusts are relatively new to the UK, but they’re catching on fast.

A dog with money from a pet trust fund
Dogs are famously rubbish with money. Photo from Training Academy on Flickr.

A pet trust is a pot of money that can only be used to pay for your pet’s care after you die. You choose a carer, and lay out a set of things the money can be spent on (vet’s fees, food, etc.) You also choose trustees. Their job is to make sure the money is actually spent on your pet, and not on holidays in Bali. 

When your pet joins you in the great beyond, the remaining money goes to your chosen beneficiary.

Now, pet trusts can be complicated to set up. Compared to naming guardians in your will, it’s a more expensive option. But if you’re interested, we recommend talking to our complex wills team. They’ll be able to help you out.

Interested in setting up a pet trust? No problem. Call our complex wills team on 0800 054 9793.

 

The catch

As you can see, making sure your pet will be cared for is easy.

But if you want to leave everything to them — the whole shebang —  there can be issues. 

Basically, your disgruntled relatives can (and probably will) dispute the will. 

While they likely won’t be able to snatch the whole fortune back, they can claim “reasonable financial provision”. So, if you don’t want them to drag poor old Fluffy to court, it’s best to leave at least something to your human loved ones.

 

The long and short of it

So, here it is in a nutshell. You can’t bequeath your dog or cat (or lizard) money in your will. But you can appoint guardians or set up a trust for them instead.

If you do this, maybe don’t leave everything to your pets. After all, what would a dog do with all that money?

A dog whose owner left him her whole estate

Oh, right.