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5 Stories About Wills and the Money People Leave Behind


Having a Will or trust with a carefully crafted list of instructions gives you an incredible amount of control and peace of mind over what happens after your death. As we learned in a previous post, these documents can get pretty detailed and should account for anything, especially when dictating where and to whom your money and precious belongings go.


We’ve all heard stories of parents or grandparents leaving behind modest inheritances for their loved ones or even bequeathing their art collection, jewelry, or other precious heirlooms. Some of those inheritances are so large that they instantly change someone’s life. But we bet you haven’t heard these stories. Below is a collection of out-of-the-box stories of inheritances, instructions, and wild requests people have included in their Will and/or trust.


We pulled these from various online sources and included links where possible to give proper credit.


Dean Smith leaves money behind for his players


Dean Smith was a legendary Hall of Fame men’s college basketball coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Smith won two national titles and coached greats such as Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Jerry Stackhouse, and more. After he died in 2015 at the age of 83, word quickly spread that his Will included a provision to give $200 to every letter winner who played for him during his 36 seasons.


According to ESPN, individual checks from Smith’s trust were sent out to roughly 180 players with a note that said, “enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.”


A dog inherits $12 million


We’re dog lovers, too, so we had to include this one! In 2007, billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley left $12 million to her 9-year-old Maltese named Trouble. According to several media outlets, a judge later reduced the dog’s inheritance to $2 million for unspecified reasons, but a caretaker and a full-time security guard tended to Trouble around the clock at the cost of $100,000 a year until the dog died in 2010.


What’s also interesting about this story is that Helmsley cut two grandchildren out of her Will and evicted her son’s widow after his death. But boy, did she really have a soft spot in her heart for Trouble!



A rose a day for the rest of her life!


A famous comedian named Jack Benny went beyond monetary requests and chose something more heartfelt than you can possibly imagine. After he died in 1974, the Guardian reports Benny requested that a long-stemmed red rose be delivered to his widow, Mary Livingstone, every day for the rest of her life.


Waitress inherits $500,000


Many people have their favorite waiter or waitress, but one man enjoyed sitting in his favorite waitress’s section so much that he made her the sole beneficiary of his entire estate. That man was Bill Cruxton, and the waitress was Cara Wood, a teenager who served Cruxton at Dink’s Restaurant in Ohio and occasionally ran several errands for him until he died in 1992 at the age of 82.


According to another article by the Washington Post, Cruxton was widowed and childless. He simply wanted his $500,000 to go to make a difference in someone’s life. His sister tried to challenge the ruling but didn’t win.


Ashes in space?


Here’s another interesting one that doesn’t involve money. Gene Roddenberry, the guy who created Star Trek, requested that his ashes be scattered in space. That’s right; he wanted to boldly go where no man has gone before. Roddenberry’s wishes were carried out, per this website. His ashes were released by a satellite orbiting Earth in 1997.


We could go on and on with unique stories of what can be included in a Will or trust. Perhaps you have some that you’ve heard? Let us know in the comments. These are our favorites, though, and they do a great job of illustrating just how much control you have over what happens after you die.


Call Caitlyn Ashley Law today!!


Having a plan for the future is the most important gift you can give yourself and your family. Granted, none of us will ever know for sure what is around every corner in life. And just thinking about the what-ifs — what if I were to die or become incapacitated tomorrow; what if my child with special needs has no one to care for her; what if all my “stuff” isn’t passed onto the right people — can be overwhelming. But having a plan that accounts for your family’s unique circumstances, puts your affairs in order, has concrete solutions to your concerns, lays out your wishes and goals, and protects your family’s future provides peace of mind for the road ahead.

Caitlyn Ashley Law in Denton, Texas, will counsel you on which documents are best suited for your needs and ensure they are flexible enough to meet your changing needs for years to come.




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