Here’s one more in our series of articles about Wonky Wills, Pathetic Probates and Disagreeable Deaths. If you’re twisted like us, you might get a laugh out of some of the strange stuff people do at the end of their days …
#1 Tomas Martinez
67-year-old Tomas Martinez was living on the street in Santa Cruz de le Sierra, Bolivia, when he was approached by police officers who had good news for him. His ex-wife (whom he abandoned years earlier) had died and was leaving him her fortune of $6 million. Martinez thought the police were there to arrest him for his drug and alcohol related issues, and he fled without hearing what they had to say.
The man disappeared without a trace, causing Bolivian newspapers to speak of him in 2000 as a “new millionaire paradoxically not knowing his fortune”. The inheritance was to come to Mr Martinez from his ex-wife, Ines Gajardo Olivares, who inherited the money herself from family members. She evidently did not blame him for leaving her several years ago. The (un)lucky man has never been found.
#2 The Peladis
Two homeless men inherited a share of a 4 billion GBP fortune after a bizarre twist in family fortunes. Brothers Zsolt and Geza Peladi were so poor they lived in a cave outside Budapest, Hungary, and sold scrap they found on the street for pennies. Now both of them and a sister who lives in America inherited their grandmother’s massive fortune after a life of poverty. “We knew our mother came from a wealthy family but she was a difficult person and had severed ties with them, then later abandoned us and we lost touch with her and our father until she eventually died,” said Geza, aged 43. They learned of their good fortune after homelessness charity workers in Hungary were contacted by lawyers handling the estate of the brothers’ maternal grandmother who died recently in Baden-Wurttenberg, Germany. Under German law direct descendants are automatically entitled to a share of any estate that would pass from their dead mother to them.
#3 Sergey Sudev
Sergey Sudev was left a 950 million euros fortune by an uncle he had not seen for 10 years. But he must have made a good impression at their meeting a decade ago, because it prompted the uncle, who lived in Germany, to write Sudev into his will straight away. The student had no idea he stood to inherit a fortune and got on with his course in journalism. Then one day there was a knock at his door in the town of Komrat – his uncle’s agents had tracked him down to pass on the incredible news. A shocked Sudev is reported to have said to them: “Is this a joke?” The inheritance means he has become one of the richest men in Moldova, where the average monthly salary is around 270 euros.
#4 Leona Helmsley
The notoriously egomaniacal hotelier famously left $12 million to her dog named Trouble, while entirely cutting two of her grandchildren out of her will (for “reasons which are known to them”). Her other two grandchildren didn’t get off the hook entirely; their inheritances were contingent upon their regularly making visits to their father’s grave, where they would have to sign a registration book to prove they had shown up.
#5 Carlotta Liebenstein
When German countess Carlotta Liebenstein died in 1991, she left her entire $80-million estate to her dog, Gunther.
#6 Ruth Lilly
This one’s not like the others on this list, since Ruth Lilly is still alive. Lilly, a pharmaceutical heiress and aspiring poet, spent much of her life trying to convince editors to publish her verses. Although she didn’t get any by-lines, the editor of Poetry magazine once sent Lilly a handwritten rejection note, and that was enough for her. In 2002, Lilly pledged $100 million worth of stock to the foundation that publishes the journal.
#7 Henry Budd
It’s not clear how he originally made 200,000 pounds, but when Henry Budd died in 1862, he left his substantial fortune to his two sons on the condition that neither sullied his lip with a moustache.
#8 Bill Cruxton
In 1992, waitress Cara Wood was 17 and working at Drin’s Colonial Restaurant in her hometown of Chagrin Falls, east of Cleveland. She was a good employee – bright, friendly and helpful. One customer, Bill Cruxton, liked her so much that he always sat in her section. A widower with no children, he went daily to the restaurant for his meals and some company, so they became friends. In addition to being his regular waitress, she helped him around the house and ran errands for him. Wood became so important to Cruxton that he rewrote his will, making her the main beneficiary. Cruxton, 82, died of heart failure in November 1992 and left her half a million dollars.
It is important to remember that Wills can be challenged and some final instructions relating to a Will are not always upheld in a court of law. Care should always be taken when completing your Will. If someone successfully challenges a Will it may be deemed invalid, and the court can distribute the estate as if the Will never existed. The estate will then be distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy.
So remember: if you write something in your Will that invalidates it you might die intestate – leaving your loved ones with the inevitable emotional and financial fallout of this to deal with.
If you don’t have a Will or have one that needs updating we offer a cost effective and convenient estate planning service. Our specialist expert consultants can come to you and our rates are very competitive. To learn more about our services please call 08 8212 7233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Weird Probate Issues Articles Series
- Weird Probate Issues
- More Weird Probate Issues
- Weird Probate Issues Part 3
- Weird Probate Issues Part 4
- Weird Probate Issues Part 5
- Weird Probate Issues Part 6
- Weird Probate Issues Part 7
- Weird Probate Issues Part 8
- Weird Probate Issues Part 9
More Probate Resources
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