Will readings can be either one of two things. Super boring, or super entertaining. Most lawyers will openly admit that will readings a largely uneventful. Normally families just accept what was handed to them and then move on with their lives.
Even though that may be the case, it doesn't mean there aren't moments when will readings don't go as one might expect. Just take it from these lawyers and family members who found themselves in such shocking will readings, they decided to turn to Reddit to share their tales. From shocking plot twist, to scheming family members, these stories are sure to leave your jaw hanging. Content has been edited for clarity.
“My Grandfather Hated His Neighbor”
“My grandfather hated his neighbor. They lived next to each other for 20+ years. I remember my grandfather raging at every opportunity about this guy. We never saw them speak to each other.
In Grandpa’s will, he left the guy $10k, a car and golf clubs. We were dumbstruck.
Turns out they were good buddies from the Army. When they coincidently bought homes next to each other, they decided to play a long scam with both their families. They actually played golf together 2-3 times a week, and had a monthly poker game for years.”
“Even My Grandmother Didn’t Know About It”
“My grandfather, a Vietnam War veteran suffered from PTSD. It got worse in his later years and he would often isolate himself from the rest of the family, and would hide out in his bedroom when visitors were over.
My grandmother would often tell us stories about how he had inherited a significant amount of money from his father way back when. She said that in their younger years, he often spent his inheritance on luxurious dates and trips. After returning from war, he spent the remaining money on a house in which he and my grandmother settled and raised their children.
Fast forward to his death, just a couple months back, and we found out he had written a will. Even my grandmother didn’t know about it.
We all had assumed he wouldn’t have much to leave since most of the money he had saved from his time in the military was going towards taking care of him as he was placed in a care facility as his PTSD worsened.
His will told of a warehouse in Township, Michigan that held a large collection of vintage cars. He said that the warehouse was passed down from his father, and he had all the documents to prove that he was the owner of some type of warehouse. His will estimated that the cars be worth an excess of two million dollars total. The money from his collection would be split between his four children.
We had no idea this collection ever existed. My father and his three brothers had all grown up in Plano, Texas. None of us had ever been to Michigan before. Even our mother couldn’t recall a time of our father ever having even gone to visit Michigan.
After a long debate, my father and I, the only ones who could manage to find some time off from work, agreed to fly out to Michigan to see this collection first hand.
After a few thousand dollars spent on plane tickets, hotels, etc. we finally arrived at the warehouse my grandfather owned. It was a run down warehouse, but it was tucked away within a compound of other warehouses that seemed to be otherwise well taken care of.
Finally, code in hand, my father punched the numbers into the keypad and the giant door began to rise. What was inside was beyond words.
There was absolutely nothing. Besides a few homeless people that managed to sneak in through a hole in the core-gated metal around back there was no car collection.
We were able to contact a few owners of the neighboring warehouses and to their knowledge no one and nothing had ever been inside of those warehouses in the years they had been there.
To this day, we don’t know what happened. We all just assume that the PTSD caused him to create some kind of fantasy in his mind. That maybe he purchased the warehouse believing it was a safe house for him if he ever needed to get out of Plano.”
“The Best Moments Of”
“Readings aren’t typical with wills, that’s mostly a Hollywood thing. Still, sometimes the will specifies a reading, usually (at least I’ve found) when the deceased wants to throw shade at someone in front of the rest of the family.
The strangest, and most embarrassing, reading was in a room crowded with relatives when a man who died fairly young (massive heart attack, early 50’s) left absolutely everything to his 26-year-old step-daughter, which was quite a lot of money and property. Two ex-wives and children from the first marriage got nothing, nor did siblings, nieces, nephews, etc. The will specified that a DVD be played to explain why the step-daughter was getting everything. Like everyone else, I thought it’d be the guy explaining the big ‘middle finger’ to the rest of the family.
What followed was completely unexpected. It was a hidden camera recording of the guy and his step-daughter (at about age 15) having wild coitus, which they both were very clearly enjoying.
The video started in mid-coitus, with her screaming, ‘Yes oh god yes!’ It had obviously been edited to start with maximum shock value, and it worked, because it took about 30-seconds for me to recover enough to turn the thing off. Definitely the biggest ‘what the heck’ moment of my career.
I later learned that the guy and his step-daughter had been having coitus since she was 14, all the way to when he died (when she was 26). Apparently, though this is second-hand and I can’t confirm, there were multiple clips of various video bits through the ages on the DVD. At the end of the DVD, the guy explains that the step-daughter gets everything because she’d been, ‘the best lay of his life.’
Worst part: The will specified that I was to give every single family member their own copy of the DVD. The copies had been kept in a box and had been distributed prior to the showing, so everyone had, ‘The Best Moments Of,’ in their hands at the time the DVD was playing.
Epilogue: The family sued and lost, believe it or not. The girl got to keep everything.”
“Frankly It Was Awesome Hearing His Kids Blow Up About It”
“Years ago, I worked in a retirement community. An older man we knew was gay developed a late in life relationship and moved into the community with his gay lover. He was a Korea vet, multiple honors, and had a wall of medals. He was also a bit of an bully most days, but he had moments where he wasn’t so bad, and all his old war stories were fantastic.
His children over three years never once visited him. He had a heart attack and knew he was going to die. His children showed up but demanded his lover leave for visits.
In his will, he left everything to his lover and his lover’s one child from a former marriage. He wrote a long note about his kids’ hypocrisy of not visiting, and their attitudes toward his lover.
He left each of his two kids a pail of coal ash to be deducted from his estate, and had his estate pay for his lover’s plot to be next to him and his wife.
It was, frankly, awesome hearing his kids blow up about it.”
“To My Daughter Anne”
“‘To my daughter Anne, who created my beautiful granddaughter Jane, and her dear fourth husband John, who laid hands on My Jane, I leave one dollar you money grubbing imbecile. To Jane, I leave all of my monetary assets. $5K, and my best weapon I leave to my son Bill, only on the condition that he beats John bloody during the time between my funeral and my burial. Jane, bail your uncle out of jail, please.’
Other than names, this is the exact wording of a great uncle’s will (part of it anyway). At the age of nine Jane told her mother that John had abused her and her mother told her she deserved it for being ‘promiscuous.’
So Great-Grandpa took Jane in and raised her, and his two kids got exactly what it says. His son also got a truck and technically a house, although he only kept it until Jane was a legal adult and could afford the tax on it. Bill got full custody of Jane when his father died and he put every penny of her money into a trust fund to mature when she was 25, because he felt like his sister would try to get the money… He was right.
And in case anyone wondered, yes Bill got his five grand. He didn’t get arrested though because John had a warrant on him so they didn’t dare call the cops. Bill did kindly inform the police of his whereabouts a few weeks later.”
“Seemed Like An Amazing Friendship”
“I worked with trusts and estates for many years. One of my favorites was from a widower whose wife had died some twenty years earlier. After her death, he wanted to travel the country in a motor home but was too grieved to do so. Years later, his old army buddy’s wife died and they re-established their friendship in their retirement years. He finally bought the motor home he’d dreamed of and left with his buddy to travel the continent, which they did for many years.
After he passed away, he left a new motor home to his buddy, but with one stipulation. The buddy was required to mount a set of 6-foot longhorns on the hood of the rig before it would become his. It sounded like a Texan vs non-Texan dispute they’d had for many years.
Absolutely brilliant, and seemed like an amazing friendship. I would have loved to hear their traveling adventures over the years.
Oh yeah, I just remembered he also left his sister, ‘just two cents,’ and to told her that, ‘he would finally get his last two cents in!'”
“She Was Full Of Evil”
“We had this old aunt who was despicable. She was full of evil and when I was young (and pretty much behaved perfectly) she once locked me in her bathroom for absolutely no freaking reason at all. My family would search for me and she would pretend she didn’t know where I was. It was one of the most horrific experiences of my life.
My mother hated her and once fed her cat food telling her it was foie gras or something like that.
Anyways, she had a change of heart later on and she was pretty ok (gave me her gigantic matchbox collection) and she would always give me lots of money. Let’s say 20 euros when I was like 8 or 9 which, at the time, I think is a lot for a 9-year-old that really only needed money to buy bubblegums.
So having put that into context she said in her will, ‘X can have this, Y can have this, this goes to Z… As for the rest of you… Kill yourselves to take what’s remaining.’
It never dawned on me how freaking weird she was until now.”
“I’m Not Completely Sure What Was Going On In His Head”
“My maternal grandfather passed away 11 years ago, leaving his home to his 4 children, with a lot of stipulations… My uncle never married and still lives there, and until he dies or decides to move out, no one gets a share. Another uncle owes the estate upwards of $50K, and cannot receive a share until he first pays back the $50K (the house is now worth around $700K, but the $50k cannot be deducted from ‘his share’)…
Anyway, he had bone cancer and my mother and I lived with him and cared for him (I’d cook, clean, give massages, wipe his butt, etc.) until the day he died. He left my mom the content of his bank account with the stipulation that she use it to pay off any remaining debt (hospital bills) of his. Which she did, leaving her with nothing. This upset the two of the other siblings and they still give her stuff about it.
She has Rheumatoid, Psoriatic and Osteo-arthritis (sorry not trying to turn this into a sob story, just getting to a point), but has to work full-time at Costco to barely make ends meet. He did have a hefty life insurance policy, but because she and I didn’t want to attend church services because of the politics within the church, he left it all to the pastor and his children, and some to the church to build a new auditorium.
While it did really hurt that he basically left us with nothing, he was a very very good man. He was extremely generous with his time and money, a very hard worker, devoted, kind, etc. At the end of the day, he instilled some really great values in me, and I appreciate it so much I named my son after him.
Unfortunately he also left behind some bitter family members, causing tension in the family, and even caused the congregation at his church to split in half. I’m not completely sure what was going on in his head.”
Tales From The Mail Room
“I used to work for a online company that allowed people to write up their own last will and testament as well as a bunch of other legal documents…living will, llc, intellectual properties, name change, divorce, etc. When I first started, I was hired as an intern in the ‘mail room.’ I made sure that the customers’ Last Will and Testament had no typos and fit all the proper formats and guidelines. I only checked the wills for grammar/spelling, format, and address errors, since these wills were completely done by the customer, so all they had to do was followed our guideline provided online.
One will read that he wanted a chimpanzee in a full suit ushering people at his funeral. Another will read that the man be cremated and that his ashes to be spread across every state in the U.S. Other odd wills that I saw usually involved giving a large some of their assets to the owners’ pets. I am not sure if these wills ever became official because they were not yet legal documents however, I like to believe the chimpanzee one happened for real.”
The Books For Schoolchildren in Liberia That Never Made It
“My sister spent a couple years working for a long-standing organization in Philly that’s been accepting bequeathments since the late 18th century. Her job was to help organize the various trusts they had to administer, as well as going around advising people not to do things like this, and just leave them a lump sum. People had a habit of leaving them an annual trust (that $5/year was a princely sum in 1813, but by now it’s just a complete nuisance) or of leaving them ridiculously specific things to do every year.
The worst example I remember (I’m a little fuzzy on the details) was a woman who left funds to purchase books for schoolchildren in Liberia. Problem is, her funds now don’t buy more than a couple books, and she left instructions for someone to deliver the books, not to ship them.”
“That Was The Last Time I Have Heard From Him”
“When my grandparents on my mother’s side were dying of cancer, my uncle (black sheep of the family who I’ve never met, thank God) wanted to know what he was getting from the inheritance when they died. Not, ‘how’s mom and dad’ or ‘what can I do to help.’
My grandparents being the people they were, were still going to give him an inheritance after all the messed up things he did to them, but my mom (the power of attorney) convinced them that they shouldn’t be manipulated by him anymore. They ended up writing him an email back telling him that he wouldn’t be included in the will anymore. He ended up threatening to burn their house down, my house down, killing me and my family, etc. for betraying him and you know what my grandparents did?
They ended up including him in the will and sending him exactly one penny in check form by mail. That was the last time I have heard from him since.”
Tough Love Until The Very End
“I’m a lawyer who dabbles in will readings and estate disputes from time to time. We normally don’t actually do a reading of the will like they do in the movies. It’s much more boring. We just fire up the probate and send notice to all the heirs.
The weirdest one I saw was a guy that was worth about two million dollars who left, ‘My Carhartt jacket and one dollar to my son. I hope it keeps him warm when he winds up sleeping under a bridge.’
The kid had a dope addition…
I also had someone leave an antique commode to one of his kids. Yes. He considered an elderly toilet to be a family heirloom. The guy was actually pretty excited to get the toilet. It was the last thing they had left to remember their grandma by.”
“Hope She Enjoys It”
“So my father is the oldest of 3 other siblings. He had two brothers and one sister. When their father passed away 2 years ago, it was discovered that the will had been changed. The sister (my aunt) had convinced my grandpa to leave my father and my uncle nothing at all because she was a divorcee and had no job qualifications while her brothers were professionals. Why would my grandfather go for this? Because the edits were made while he was pretty deep in his medical regiment for dementia.
My uncle is a lawyer and is sure he has a case, but instead they’re dropping it and have exiled my aunt. If she wanted the money so badly, she would end her relationship with her brothers that she went on faking for 5 years while knowing she was leading them over… That was what she’d deserve. A little bit of money and no one to share it with.
She has no children and now no one in the pretty sizable family speaks to her. Hope she enjoys it.”
Never Trust Lawyers, Even If They’re Family
“Before my great aunt passed away, my uncle (a lawyer) helped to draw up her will. He had assumed a lot of responsibility for her, though he couldn’t visit her that often. His daughter would sometimes visit, but they were never on great terms. Our great aunt favored my mother, and we would see her on the semi regular.
When she passed away, she left 1% of her will to myself and each of my sisters, but nothing to my mother. My mother was upset to have been forgotten despite the fact that they were on such good terms, but moved on. Strangely, she apparently left a full third of her inheritance to my uncle’s daughter.
It took us a while to realize that the names had been changed. The 1/3 of her estate had originally been for my mother, as the title had been for ‘my niece,’ not great niece. My uncle changed the will so his daughter would get the money instead of his sister.
We never fought it, since our family is well off and we wanted to stay on good terms with everyone. But it was freeing to know that our great aunt cared, but our bogus uncle changed the will.”
“My Parents Never Seen A Cent”
“When my grandparents passed, their assets were to be split evenly between their children. Right after the funeral all the children went to the farm to split evenly. Unbeknownst to my aunt my grandmother asked everyone what they wanted before she passed. She then had each child visit and take what they wanted. When my aunt arrived she beelined for grandma’s jewelry box. She tried to take everything. She even tried to keep the Rolex my parents had given my grandmother on her birthday claiming it had significance to her until my mother pointed out that it was engraved and wouldn’t be worth much. My aunt then went around asking about key pieces my grandmother had given away and no one ‘had seen’ them.
But that’s not the end. My grandparents owned a farm. Unfortunately, my grandfather had been a hoarder and there were acres of land cluttered with old tractors and antiques as well as just junk. I remember distinctly a garage made out of WW2 ammunition boxes that housed a Model T in almost pristine condition. Anyway, my uncle was executor and he decided that his daughter should live on the farm and ‘clean it up.’
My grandmother passed in ’93. My cousin is still living on the farm. They have sold off everything and my parents have never seen a cent. They can’t sell the house because the land has not been cleared. My parents even went as far as finding someone who would clear the land for the price of the scrap metal so it wouldn’t cost a dime. No dice. And because my grandparents stated in the will that my uncle would divide everything equally and as long as his daughter lives on the farm there is nothing we can do.”
A Family Overcoming Poor Wording
“My great-grandfather died somewhat unexpectedly, and when it was read, his will stated that everything was left, ‘to his grandchildren,’ while his sons had use of the income for their lifetime. Now, he had 5 sons from 2 marriages, and at the time the will was written, had 8 grandchildren. My father was grandchild number 9 and was born several years after his grandfather’s death. But, since the grandchildren weren’t named, he too was one of the inheritors.
Shockingly enough, the 5 sons were able to live out their lives without fighting over the estate. Then, even more surprisingly, the 9 grandchildren got together and broke the will so their mothers could have use of the income (all 5 women outlived their husbands) for their lifetimes. When the last of these women died, the 9 grandchildren again broke the will and had the estate distributed to the 8 grandchildren still alive by then.
The estate wasn’t really that large, to be honest, not life-changing or ‘never have to work again’ levels. My father was able to retire a few years earlier than expected, but that’s it. I grew up listening to the negotiations between the 9 as they ensured their mothers would have money to live on, etc. It was, I’ve been told since, a very rare occasion of that many people managing to overcome stupid/short-sighted will wording to come to amicable agreement.”