Most people assume the main purpose for a will and other estate documents is to control the transfer of property from the deceased person to his or her heirs; however, this is not the case. Estate planning allows you to control much more than the transfer of property. One of the most recent examples can be found in the Estate of Robin Williams.
In his will, Williams restricted the use of his image for 25 years after his death. In his estate, Williams left the rights to his name, signature, photograph, and likeness to the Windfall Foundation. The foundation is a charitable organization that Williams had established prior to his death. The trust is designed to prevent Williams’ publicity from being exploited after his death — for at least 25 years.
Other famous examples of individuals using their estate to accomplish their final desires in addition to the transfer of property include:
- Eleanor E. Ritchey, the Quaker State Refining Corporation heiress, let her $4.5 million estate to her 150 dogs.
- Janis Joplin left $2,500 for an all-night party for 200 guests so they could “get blasted after I’m gone.”
- Harry Houdini left his wife 10 random words that she could use to contact him in the afterlife.
- William S. Sanborn left his body to science in 1871 with the condition that his skin be used to construct two drums to be used by his friend to play “Yankee Doodle” every year on June 17 at Bunker Hill.
The above are just some of the examples of the odd and strange clauses found in wills throughout history. We use these to emphasize that you can utilize the tools found in estate planning tools to accomplish a variety of goals in addition to the transfer of property.
Do You Have a Question Regarding a Provision in Your Estate Plan?
Is there something you want to protect after your death? Do you have a desire that you believe may not be honored unless you specifically direct that your heirs honor your wishes in your will? Our estate planning attorneys can help you draft documents that will accomplish all of your goals, regardless of how odd or strange someone else may view those goals.
The attorneys of Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters pertaining to these areas of law. We personalize our services to meet the needs of each client and our attorneys make house calls for our clients if they are unable to come to our office. Contact our office by calling (608) 292-5185 to schedule a consultation or use our online contact form.