Creating A Will and Testament And Interesting Bequests From The Past

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For a while now, the creation of a personal last will and testament has been on my “to-do” list. 
This was after reading several recommendations in the general personal finance books I frequently use as reference material (Personal Finance For Dummies by Eric Tyson and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Personal Finance in Your 20’s and 30’s by Sarah Fisher).
Despite these recommendations to have a will, I had been putting off the exercise of will creation because I didn’t think I was adequately armed with the proper knowledge to know what to put in the document. Ideally, I was meaning to read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wills and Estates first).
However, several days ago, I came across the website below, which offered free templates for creating your own will. Needless to say, creating a will this way isn’t ideal, as it would be much better to have your will reviewed and prepared by an attorney. However, I figure that this is definitely better than nothing.

Note: The website above is also a great source for templates of other legal documents – ranging from real estate forms, rental contracts, patents, and franchise documents. Check it out by clicking on the link above!
So, I simply clicked on the website, chose the correct will template that suits my situation (not married with no kids), and filled out the required fields. It was fairly easy!
Special Bequests

As I was filling out the fields on the will template, one of the sections caught my eye in particular – it was the section regarding what is known as bequests.
For the uninitiated, a bequest in a will is essentially a specific direction from you, the willer, for how/what a portion of your assets should be used for.
This bequest section reminded me of some gossip I heard while living in Philadelphia this year about a special bequest from Benjamin Franklin to demonstrate the power of compounding interest. After searching around on the internet, I found that Ben Franklin’s bequest, as described by the gossip, is indeed true, and is described well by Ben Franklin’s biography of Wikipedia.

An excerpt from the Wikipedia article is shown below.

Franklin bequeathed $55,000 in 2010 Dollars to each to the cities of Boston and Philadelphia, in trust to gather interest for 200 years. As of 1990, more than $2,000,000 had accumulated in Franklin’s Philadelphia trust, which had loaned the money to local residents. When the trust came due, Philadelphia decided to spend it on scholarships for local high school students. Franklin’s Boston trust fund accumulated almost $5,000,000 during that same time; at the end of its first 100 years a portion was allocated to help establish a trade school that became the Franklin Institute of Boston and the whole fund was later dedicated to supporting this institute.

Similarly, I found another example of an interesting bequest while scouring the internet. According to The Cross Roads Fund, in 1867, Benjamin Hicks left $20,000 to the American Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, with the stipulation that the interest could be used for the Society, and the principal remain intact.

How about you all? How did you go about creating a will? Did you place any interesting bequests in it?

Are you aware of any other “famous” or “unique” bequests through history? 

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  1. Ralitsa says:

    Seasons…..maria deserves it 🙂 Good luck Maria!

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