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Will power

Your Life
Thursday 21 March 2019
Making a Will means you can leave instructions following your death. It’s a way for your final wishes to be granted. Over the years, there have been some extremely novel ways people have taken advantage of this opportunity.

Making an impression

Mark Gruenwald, a writer and artist at Marvel Comics who worked on Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, among others, often put body and soul into his work. That remained true following his death in 1996.

Four years earlier, Gruenwald wrote in his Will that he would like his ashes to become part of a comic book after he died. And following discussions with Marvel, in 1997 his wife Catherine made it happen. 

Driving to the company’s print works in Connecticut, Catherine took Gruenwald’s ashes with her. There they were mixed with the ink to be used in the first run of the collected Squadron Supreme, a comic book he’d written. 

An untouchable pay-off

Almost a century ago, an anonymous Briton left £500,000 to his or her country. But with it were a set of very specific rules. The money was only to be used when it could pay off the country’s entire national debt. 

Today, with accrued interest, that £500,000 is worth more than £350 million. But as our national debt currently sits at around £1.78 trillion, there is still some way to go.

The Toronto baby boom

Around the same time in Toronto, Canada, things were slightly different. 

An attorney set out the rules for a rather peculiar competition in his Will. Whichever woman resident of Toronto could produce the most offspring in the decade following his death, he said, would receive his estate. 

Incredibly, the baby boom inspired by this generous offer finished in a four-way tie, with the winning women each giving birth to nine children. The prize pot sat at around $125,000 each, equivalent to more than £1.3 million today. 

Boldly gone

Gene Roddenberry, creator of sci-fi series Star Trek, dedicated much of his life to space. After his death in 1991, he hoped to enjoy one last journey. 

The screenwriter’s Will included instructions for his ashes to be launched into space, to enjoy a trip in orbit on a satellite before their return. And when his wife and actress, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry died some years later, they embarked a final mission together. Both sets of ashes were launched into deep space, celebrating the couple’s love for exploration of the final frontier. 

The remembrance rose

Often it’s the small things that make the biggest difference. American comic Jack Benny certainly had that in mind when he penned his Will. 

Before his death in 1974, the star of radio, TV and film left instructions for his wife to receive a single long-stemmed rose every day for the rest of her life. The wish was carried out.

For more information about Wills, download our free guide or request a call back here
Page last updated: Thursday 21 March 2019