12 Feb Love, Marriage, and Estate Planning
Though it may not be obvious, love and estate planning go hand-in-hand. After all, protecting and providing for loved ones is what estate planning documents are for. Or, what they’re usually for. When it comes to married couples and estate planning, history has proven all bets are off. Some people choose to leave a sweet surprise for their surviving spouse. Others make bizarre requests, bequests, and demands. Read on to discover a round up of the sweet and sour couples that have used their estate plans to express their love – or lack thereof – to their spouses.
The Sweet: Flowers from beyond the grave
Radio and television comedian Jack Benny included a provision in his will to have flowers delivered daily to his widow, Mary Livingston. Livingston wrote about the sweet gesture in a biography about her husband of nearly 50 years. The title of the biography is ‘One Long-Stemmed Rose’ because according to Livingston’s obituary printed in the New York Times, “every day since Jack has gone the florist has delivered one long-stemmed red rose to my home.” The daily flower deliveries were said to contradict her husband’s TV persona as a penny pincher.
The Sour: Inheritance Restrictions
The will created by German poet Heinrich Heine falls on the opposite end of the love spectrum. After battling with spinal tuberculosis, Heine died and left his estate to his wife, Mathilde. However, his bequest came with one condition: she must remarry so that “at least one man would regret” his death. Mathilde fulfilled the condition and inherited the estate. No one knows if her second marriage proved to be as rocky as her first.
The Otherworldly: Yearly Seances
Escape artist Harry Houdini was a spiritualist, which is why he and his wife, Bess, promised each other that whoever died first would try to contact the other from beyond the grave, according to magictricks.com . The couple created a secret phrase in advance, which spelled out “believe” when the first letter of each word of the phrase was put together. After Houdini died on October 31, 1926, Bess began to conduct seances on the anniversary of his death. She gave up after receiving no contact for ten years.
The Snub: The Second Best Bed
William Shakespeare left his wife, Anne, his second best bed. The best bed was given to the couple’s daughter, Susanna, since she inherited the house. Though leaving your wife your second best bed instead of the best one would be considered a snub in modern society, experts say it wasn’t in 1616, according to this Telegraph article. They came to this conclusion after scientists at the National Archives and British Library used x-ray and infrared technology to study Shakespeare’s will. They discovered that the clause leaving his second best bed to his wife was added a month before his death. The scientists believe Shakespeare knew he was dying and since the best bed stayed with the house, giving his wife the second best bed ensured she was taken care of.
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