The following Famous Wills (often called "Celebrity Wills" or "Wills of the Rich and Famous") are included here because they provide a glimpse into our own history and the lives of these rich and famous people. Each Famous Will provides some insight into the type of wills that rich and famous people have created over the years. More Famous Wills will be added as they become available.
|The former Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court left this 176-word Will. As you can see, the Will says nothing about taxes, nor does it give any specified powers to his executors. It is speculated that his failure to elaborate his wishes cost his estate thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees. To Warren Berger's Famous Will . . .|
Samuel Clemens - aka "Mark Twain" (1835 – 1910)
|Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is most noted for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called "the Great American Novel." To Samuel L. Clemen's Famous Will . . .|
|Princess Diana (born Diana Frances Spencer on 1 July 1961) died in a tragic automobile accident in France at the age of 37. Her Will leaves her estate to her two children, with specific bequests to her former butler.
To Princess Diana's Famous Will . . .
To Princess Diana's Codicil to her Famous Will . . .
|The "Yankee Clipper" left a fairly sophisticated Will and one that encumpasses state-of-the-art language for many of its provisions. In addition, it makes gifts in trust to a number of beneficiaries, including a number of great-grandchildren.
To Joe Dimaggio's Famous Will . . .
|Walter Elias Disney (born on December 5, 1901) was an American film producer, director, and co-founder of The Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney left ½ of his wealth to his family and the other ½ to a charitable foundation for the arts.
To Walt Disney's Famous Will . . .
|Doris Duke (born on November 22, 1912) was a tobacco heiress and philanthropist who left a $1.2 billion estate upon her death in 1993.
To Doris Duke's Famous Will . . .
Elizabeth Edwards (1949 – 2010)
|Elizabeth Anania Edwards (born Mary Elizabeth Anania) was an attorney, author and a health care activist. She was married to John Edwards, a former U.S. Senator and a former United States Democratic vice-presidential nominee.
To Elizabeth Edward's Famous Will . . .
|Henry Jaynes Fonda (born on May 16, 1905) was a higly-acclaimed, Academy-Award winning actor, whose career spanned nearly six decades.
To Henry Fonda's Famous Will . . .
Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)
|Ben Franklin’s Will (dated July 17, 1788) and codicil (dated June 23, 1789) are wordy and typical of his work in those days. Both provide an interesting view of life in the 1700s, particularly the use of the English language.
To Benjamin Franklin's Famous Will . . .
|Clark Gable is best known for his role as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. His Will, which he signed on September 19, 1955, leaves all his property to his former wife, Josephine Dillon and his current wife, Kathleen G. Gable. To Clark Gable's Famous Will . . .|
James Gandolfini (1961 - 2013)
|James John Gandolfini, Jr. was an American actor who rose to fame in The Sopranos as a crime boss who struggled to balance his life as a family man with a career in the mafia.
To James Gandolfini's Famous Will . . .
|Jerome John Garcia (better known as "Jerry Garcia") was the founder and the undisputed leader of the band, the "Grateful Dead," which performed for over 30 years at the time of his death. To Jerry Garcia's Famous Will . . .
|Harry Helmsley was a real estate mogul whose interests at one time included the Empire State Building in New York City. Mr. Helmsley died on January 4, 1997, leaving an estate valued at over $1.7 billion. To Harry Helmsley's Famous Will . . .|
|Leona Helmsley (nicknamed the "Queen of Mean") inherited roughly $5.5 billion from her husband, Harry Helmsley, upon his death in 1997. Her will is significant for a number of reasons, but particularly for the gift of $12 million in trust for her dog, Trouble.
To Leona Helmsley's Famous Will . . .
Katharine Hepburn (1907 - 2003)
|Katharine Hepburn was an American actress of film, television and stage. She received 4 Oscars for Best Actress, an Emmy Award in 1976 for her lead role in Love Among the Ruins, and was nominated for four other Emmys, two Tony Awards and eight Golden Globes. To Katharine Hepburn's Famous Will . . .|
|Whitney Elizabeth Houston was an American recording artist, actress, producer, and model. In 2009, the Guinness World Records cited her as the most-awarded female act of all-time. Houston was one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 170 million albums, singles and videos worldwide. To Whitney Houston's Famous Will . . .|
|Michael Joseph Jackson (born on August 29, 1958), known as the "King of Pop", was an American musician and one of the most commercially successful and influential entertainers of all time. To Michael Jackson's Famous Will . . .|
"Shoeless Joe" Jackson (1888 - 1951)
|"Shoeless Joe" Jackson was one of the greatest-hitting, major league baseball players of his time. He was one of eight players banned from baseball for life for his alleged involvement in the Black Sox scandal. To Joe Jackson's Famous Will . . .|
Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)
|Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States (1801–1809) and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776). An influential Founding Father, Jefferson envisioned America as a great "Empire of Liberty" that would promote republicanism. To Thomas Jefferson's Famous Will . . .|
|This is a very interesting Will, not only because it is John Kennedy’s Will, but because it contains most of the types of provisions one would expect to find in a modern Will. First, it makes specific gifts of tangible personal property and real estate to various individuals. Second, the residue (remainder) of his estate is “poured-over” to a revocable living trust.
To John Kennedy's Famous Will . . .
John Kennedy, Jr. (1960 - 1999)
|John Kennedy, Jr. and his wife, Caroline Bessette-Kennedy, died in a plane crash in July of 1999. Since Caroline did not survive him and he had no surviving children, his Will gave his property to the children of his sister, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, and a trust he established in 1983. His estate is estimated to be worth around a $100 million.
To John Kennedy, Jr.'s Famous Will . . .
Edward (Ted) Kennedy (1932 - 2009)
|Edward (Ted) Kennedy was a life-long Democrat and a United States Senator from Massachusetts from 1962 until his death on August 25th, 2009. He was the last surviving son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., the youngest brother of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, both victims of assassination, and Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., killed in action in World War II. To Edward (Ted) Kennedy's Famous Will . . .|
|John Lennon left almost all of his estate to his wife, Yoko Ono. It is interesting to note, however, that he, too, created a revocable living trust during his lifetime and his Will “pours-over” the bulk of his probate estate to his living trust.
To John Lennon's Famous Will . . .
|Among other reasons, Linda McCartney’s Will is interesting because she uses testamentary trusts to virtually eliminate federal estate taxes, at least while her husband, Paul McCartney, is alive. To Linda McCartney's Famous Will . . .|
|Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson) was an American actress, model, Hollywood icon, and sex symbol. Her death occurred in 1962, apparently from suicide. Her Last Will and Testament leaves most of her estate to her family and friends. To Marilyn Monroe's Famous Will . . .|
|Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, and auto racing enthusiast. He won an Academy Award for his performance in The Color of Money (along with 8 other Oscar nominations), three Golden Globe Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, and an Emmy award.
To Paul Newman's Famous Will . . .
|Richard Milhous Nixon served as President of the United States from 1969 to 1974. His Last Will and Testament is extremely detailed and precise as to the disposition of his property, including his papers and other "work product" of his presidency.
To Richard Nixon's Famous Will . . .
Jackie Kennedy Onassis (1929 -1994)
|Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (born on July 28, 1929) was the wife of John F. Kennedy from 1953 until his assassination in 1963. On October 20, 1968, she married Aristotle Onassis and remained his wife until his death in 1975.
To Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' Famous Will . . .
|Upon his death in 1996, David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, left the majority of his $6.6 billion estate to THE DAVID AND LUCILE PACKARD FOUNDATION.
To David Packard's Famous Will . . .
|Elvis Presley died with a considerable fortune, which he left to his family. His Will is particularly interesting because he makes use of testamentary trusts to provide for his family long after he’s gone. Overall, Elvis' Will is quite modern and well thought out.
To Elvis Presley's Famous Will . . .
|Babe Ruth (born George Herman Ruth on February 6, 1895) was known as the “Sultan of Swat.” His Will is interesting because it references a living trust that he established during his lifetime and because it gifted certain property to the Babe Ruth Foundation, which he established. To Babe Ruth's Famous Will . . .|
|While Frank Sinatra's Will gives us a great deal of information about how Ol' Blue Eyes disposed of a portion of his property, the largest gifts under his Will are to various trusts that he established during his lifetime, which are totally private.
To Frank Sinatra's Famous Will . . .
Anna Nicole Smith (1967 - 2007)
|The Will of Vickie Lynn Marshall, better known under the stage name of Anna Nicole Smith, left her entire estate to Howard Stern to be held in trust for the benefit of her son, Daniel Wayne Smith. Unfortunately, her son predeceased her and her Will makes no provision for other heirs. To Anna Nicole Smith's Famous Will . . .|
George Steinbrenner (1930 – 2010)
|George Michael Steinbrenner III was the owner and managing partner of the New York Yankees. During his 37-year ownership of the Yankees (from 1937 until his death in 2010), the Yankees won 7 World Series and 11 pennants.
To George Steinbrenner's Famous Will . . .
To George Steinbrenner's Codicil to his Famous Will . . .
George Washington (1732 - 1799)
|George Washington's Will is of particular interest, not only because he was the first president of the United States, but because it contains detailed instructions for the disposition of his real and personal property.
To George Washington's Famous Will . . .
(Reference - Famous Wills | Celebrity Wills | Wills of the Rich and Famous)