Weird and Bizarre Last Will and Testaments Part 3
About a variety of strange and bizarre last will and testaments in history.
McNAIR ILGENFRITZ, American pianist and composer, died 1953
Last Will: He left the bulk of his estate, $150,000, to New York's Metropolitan Opera provided that within four years the Met stage one of his operas, either Le Passant or Phedre. Hard pressed for funds, Met officials nearly capitulated but, accused of prostituting the vocal arts, they ultimately rejected the bequest.
JAMES KIDD, Arizona hermit and miner, declared dead 1956
Last Will: Having disappeared in 1949, he was declared legally dead after seven years, and in 1963 his handwritten will was discovered. In it he said that the bulk of his $275,000 estate should "go in a research for some scientific proof of a soul of a human body which leaves at death." Arizona courts dismissed more than 100 petitions--including one from Beaulah Miller, an elderly woman who claimed to have spent 35 years studying the nature of the soul--and in 1971 awarded the legacy to the American Society for Psychical Research in New York City. However, a study of deathbed experiences conducted by this organization failed to prove the soul's existence.
MARY MURPHY, California widow, died 1979
Last Will: A San Francisco resident, she left the bulk of her estimated $200,000 estate to Pets Unlimited, a nonprofit animal shelter, but her will's most controversial clause ordered the immediate destruction of her collie-sheep dog Sido. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) challenged this clause in court. Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown hurriedly signed into law a special bill sparing the dog's life. After that, Sido's fate was no longer debatable, and Probate Judge Jay Pfotenhauer further upheld the SPCA challenge on the grounds that animals, although regarded as property, have limited rights, too--a precedent in California law. Sido remained with Richard Avanzino, the SPCA director who had taken the dog into his home and his heart as he led the campaign to save it.
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