What are The Strangest Will Requests?
7 min read

What are The Strangest Will Requests?

What are burial requests for your Will? What are some of the strangest requests in a Will? In this article, we'll delve into some of the strangest Will requests and lessons you can learn from these tales! Keep reading to learn more!

Share this article:

We all know that death is a topic that can be both somber and thought-provoking. But what if we told you there's a side to burial customs that goes beyond the ordinary? Buckle up as we take you on a wild ride into the realm of strange burial requests. Get ready to dive into tales that will make you raise an eyebrow, giggle, or simply shake your head in disbelief! And maybe you might even get a few ideas for burial requests for your own Will. 

Dinners With the Dead

John Porter Bowman was a tanning magnate from Vermont who suffered terrible personal losses. Like President Joe Biden, Bowman lost a wife and daughter. Another daughter died in infancy. Unlike President Biden, who channeled his grief into public service, Bowman chose to memorialize his family by waiting for them to come back. Bowman’s Will created a $50,000 trust fund that would maintain his family’s mansion just as it had existed when they were all alive, including putting dinner on the table every night. Bowman believed in reincarnation and thought it was possible that his dead family would return one day. Well, if they did, at least they weren’t hungry! Bowman’s wishes were honored from the time he died in 1891 until the money ran out in 1905. Bowman also spent $75,000 on a mausoleum with an unusual statue of himself, stepping up to the door and holding a key over his heart. The strange display is now a tourist attraction in Cuttingsville, Vermont.

Buried in a Pringles Can

You’ve never heard of Frederic Baur, but if you’ve ever had a potato chip, you are familiar with his products. That’s because Baur invented the Pringles can, which is one of the most iconic food packaging containers in the world. Baur was an organic chemist and food scientist at Procter & Gamble when he was asked to find an innovative way to store P&G’s perfectly symmetrical potato snacks. As Baur grew older, he joked with his kids about being buried in a Pringles can. His eldest son Larry told Time Magazine that when Baur passed away, he and his siblings debated about which flavor to select, ultimately landing on the Original flavor. Baur was cremated, and his ashes were placed in a Pringles can in 2008. 

Napoleon’s Shaved Head

Everyone knows that Napoleon Bonaparte was a military genius who conquered most of Europe, but he was also a very weird dude. Napoleon once penned a romance novel. He donned disguises and wandered the streets quizzing people about their opinions of the Emperor. Like other autocrats (Hitler, Alexander the Great, and Ghengis Khan), Napoleon was deathly afraid of cats. He wore a vial of poison around his neck. Napoleon also added a strange request to his Last Will and Testament:  he wanted his head shaved before burial and for his family and friends to receive locks of his hair. This gesture turned out to have consequences he couldn’t have anticipated when he died in 1821. Scientists have now tested his hair to determine whether he was poisoned. This probably would’ve delighted Napoleon since he always believed he would be murdered. He said, “I die before my time, murdered by the English oligarchy and its assassin.” Although experts thought he died of stomach cancer, tests of his hair show that he had at least 100 times more arsenic than the average person living in his time. Arsenic was a common chemical in the 18th century, so it’s possible that he was chronically exposed to it rather than murdered. However, the jury is still out on that.

No Mustache For You!

Speaking of hair situations, an Englishman named Henry Budd conditioned his Will on whether his sons had facial hair or not. Budd died in 1862 with an estate that would be worth tens of millions in today’s dollars. He left the estate to his two sons, William and Henry, contingent on them never growing mustaches. The Trustee was instructed to revoke the fortune if either brother dared to go against their dad’s strange last request. 

Modern Mummification 

Jeremy Bentham was an influential writer, lawyer, jurist, and philosopher who is best known for the theory of utilitarianism. Bentham was an atheist who believed that if the consequences of an act are good, then the act is morally good; whereas if the consequences of an action are bad, the act itself is morally wrong. This is the essence of utilitarianism, which says actions should be judged to the extent that they help or hinder human well-being. Don’t fall asleep; this is actually the point. Bentham’s Will stipulated that he was supposed to be embalmed and then stuffed with hay because he wanted his body to be permanently on display. Bentham called this process the “auto-icon” and he thought it could be beneficial for humankind to be able to see their dead elders. Okay, whatever floats your boat, Jeremy! He also predicted that auto-icons, which are similar to statues, would be judged differently in different eras. Some people would be placed in a hall of honor, only to be later placed in a hall of dishonor. This would be less about “cancellation” but a reassessment of a person’s values and virtues. Anyway, if you would like to see Jeremy Bentham’s dead body, which has been dead since 1832, it is on display at University College London.

Ashes Mixed With Ink 

Mark Gruenwald was a lifelong comics aficionado who turned his fandom into a career with Marvel. He loved the format so much that eventually, he wound up having his ashes mixed with the ink to print a Marvel comic book. Gruenwald started his career by publishing a popular fanzine called Omniverse. Marvel later hired him as a writer, editor, and penciler, where he worked on some of the company’s most beloved characters, like Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. His most famous work is the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. He spent ten years writing Captain America. Gruenwald died suddenly of an unknown heart condition in 1996. He had already told his friends and family that he wanted to be cremated so that his ashes could be mixed with printer’s ink. To fulfill his wishes, his ashes were mixed with ink and used to print Squadron Supreme, a paperback compilation of the comic.

The Great Stork Derby

Charles Vance Millar was a Canadian attorney who also co-owned a brewery. When Millar died a bachelor without children, his Will set off an event known as the Great Stork Derby. No, it wasn’t a horse race - although Millar did own several racehorses - it was a race to see which Canadian woman could make like a Duggar and have as many babies as possible. The Will awarded his fortune to the woman who had the most children in the ten years after his death. A judge ruled that the unusual Will stipulation was valid and the race was on. Eventually, four women were awarded $110,000 each after having nine children in ten years. Millar was known as a prankster, and his Will contained other unusual bequests. He left a vacation home to two men who hated each other’s guts on the condition that they live in the Jamaican property together. He left shares in the Ontario Jockey Club to anti-horse racing advocates and gave shares in his brewery to every protestant minister in Toronto. 

Heirs By Phonebook 

Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral de Camara was a Portuguese man who bragged about being an aristocrat. But he was the illegitimate son of an aristocratic woman who ignored him, leading to a lifetime of unhappiness. Unsurprisingly, de Camara never married or had children. Twenty years before his death in 1988, he wrote an unusual Will: he got a Lisbon phonebook and picked 70 names at random to inherit his estate. He did not notify the people that they had been named his heirs, but when he died, the lucky 70 received letters from a lawyer notifying them that they had received an inheritance. The strangers had never met de Camara or each other.

Treasure in the Thermos

A teen boy named Josh barely remembered his grandfather, who had severed ties with Josh’s mother because he didn’t like her husband. The grandfather always liked Josh, though and he ended up making him the sole heir to his estate. This included a 36-acre private island, 80 acres of farmland, and a thermos that was full of antique gems and jewelry. The valuable thermos is yet to be found, but Josh’s mother remembered her father referring to a “treasure island” when she was growing up.

Scroll Down
Share this article:
Let’s begin! First, what’s your name?

Your name that’s stated on your driver’s license, birth certificate, or passport.