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Where There’s A Will…

“You never realize death until you realize love” – Katherine Butler Hathaway

We all accumulate, as the late George Carlin said, ”stuff.”

Now some of us have money, property, and or, lots of stuff.

What happens to it at the end? There are no pockets in shrouds, the saying goes.

Hopefully, we have enjoyed the gathering of it all and hopefully we have enjoyed the fruits of our labors.

Most in the end leave everything to the last spouse whether there was love or not. Most leave it then to the ‘ungrateful’ children and the even more ‘ungrateful’ grandchildren. They don’t mean to be that way but many in this generation were given to and learned that was their due. Often you see wealthy parents living rather conservative lives based on their upbringing while their children live it up. Foolish people!

So, let’s look at a few Wills of some famous people.

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Jackie Kennedy Onassis was a most thoughtful woman and her Will shows it. She left the bulk of her large estate to her two children but she also bequeathed many personal items and money to a variety of family, friends, and employees. Her money came from both John Kennedy and more from Onassis when she and Bobby Kennedy fought for it from his daughter.

Caroline and John sold most of her memorabilia at Sotheby’s for close to thirty-five million dollars! Taxes took a big chunk of their money.

Joan Crawford was made famous by one of her adopted daughters, Christina, who wrote the book, “Mommie Dearest.”

She had four marriages and four adopted children: Cathy, Cynthia, Christina, and Christopher.

She lived to her late seventies and wrote that she was leaving trust funds of about $77,000 each to her two daughters but nothing to Christina and Christopher, “for reasons which are well known to them.” How cruel.

The book and movie however made Christina quite wealthy. Retribution. You never win a battle with a child.

Crawford, interestingly, left money to about six charities. Wanted to look good, I suppose.

Henry Fonda was another loving parent leaving nothing to his son Peter or daughter Jane.

He left everything to his fifth wife and adopted daughter Amy, from his third marriage.

He wrote in his three page will, ”I have made no provision in this Will for Jane or Peter, or for their families, solely because in my opinion they are financially independent, and my decision is not in any sense a measure of my deep affection for them.” Right! That leaves a sour taste in your mouth for life. But you can’t let it.

It is also a delicate business if one child is better off than another. My own rule of thumb is it should always be equal, as we never know what life will bring.

Not everyone agrees with that.

Frank Sinatra left a very long will and left most of what he had to his fourth wife Barbara who was married to him for twenty-two years, when he died at age 82. His three children were from his first marriage.

He was also generous to many friends and employees.

17409338_sElvis Presley died five months after signing his Will when he was 42. He was divorced from Priscilla and left his fortune to daughter Lisa Marie to inherit when she was 25.

George Washington died one of the nation’s wealthiest men.

His Will frees his many slaves and leaves his estate to his wife Martha. She had two children from a previous marriage. He wrote his thirty page Will by hand.

John Kennedy wrote that his Will was written, “mindful of the uncertainty of life.” Prophetic. He had a charitable foundation named for his deceased elder brother. His Will was written before he had children and never updated, interestingly, even after he was elected president.

Andy Warhol left an estate in excess of 500 million dollars. He left a small sum to two brothers but the bulk in a foundation managed by a friend, Frederick Hughes. Shortly before he died, he made a videotape and stated, “Death means a lot of money, honey.”

Albert Einstein, died in his sleep at 76.From his first marriage he had two sons and then he married a second cousin, who stayed with him until his death. She was a widow with two daughters.

He, however, had a “secretary-housekeeper” named Helen Dukas who was the top priority in his Will. His brain was kept for scientific study.

A genius and a lover!

John Jacob Astor IV, one of the richest men in America in the early 1900’s, had a fortune of about 200 million.

On the Titanic, he made sure all the women and children were put in lifeboats before himself.

As his pregnant wife left the sinking ship he lit a cigarette and said, “Good-bye, dearie. I’ll see you later.” He never did. Class will tell!!

There you have it. We all end up the same… dead!

“Few men ever drop dead from overwork, but many quietly curl up and die because of under satisfaction.” – Sidney J. Harris

 

 

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