If you are completing a last wishes form, you may want something different than the traditional funeral service. If you want your memorial to be something people remember for a long time, then think of something original. This article features examples of unusual last wishes that made headlines. These stories should help you develop new ideas when planning your own funeral.
An Example of How to Make Sure Your Last Wishes Are Fulfilled
Sandra Ilene West was an heiress and socialite who passed away in 1977 at the age of 37. She knew exactly how she wanted to be buried and was clever enough to include provisions in her will to ensure her final wishes would be fulfilled. The terms of her handwritten will specifically stated she was to be buried in her 1964 Ferrari wearing a lacy nightgown with the seat reclined at a comfortable angle.
Westís brother in law, Sol West, did not want to follow Westís last wishes, presumably because the Ferrari was too valuable a car to be buried. However, Westís will provided that her brother in law would inherit the generous sum of $2,000,000 if her last wishes were carried out but only $10,000 if they were not. After a court battle, a judge ordered West to be buried in the manner she requested, in her Ferrari. She was buried in a cemetery in San Antonio, Texas behind the wheel of her car which was encased in a casket like box. The box, the car, and Westís remains were covered with concrete to prevent the valuable car from being stolen from her grave.
Tell Your Unique Story
Leaving instructions for your last wishes is one thing you can do to help those you leave behind. Another amazing gift you can give others is telling the unique story of your own life. Too often, children, grandchildren, other relatives, and friends only learn about our lives by reading an obituary.
Communicating Your Own Last Wishes
What are your last wishes? They donít have to be original or bizarre, but they must be communicated to your family or friends. Whether you want a very traditional funeral and burial or prefer something with a bit of flair to match your personality, you must plan ahead to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. If you donít make your memorial preferences known, what happens to your remains will ultimately be decided by someone elseís wishes, not your own. To print a copy of our free Last Wishes Planner to leave instructions for your survivors, see Memorial Preferences.
People Who Really Loved Their Work
In the late 1960ís, Dr. Fredric Baur invented the tube-shaped can in which Pringles potato chips are packaged. He was later awarded a patent on the container. Dr. Baur, a chemist who worked in the food industry, was known for several inventions, including freeze-dried ice cream. One of Baurís last wishes was to have his remains buried in the distinctive container he designed. After his death in 2008, he was cremated and a portion of his ashes were buried in a Pringles can.
While this may seem like a strange request, it may go down in history as one of the most original last wishes. Dr. Baur was obviously an innovative thinker during his life and his burial request is further proof of his creativity.
Mark Gruenwald, a former writer and editor for
Marvel Comics, left some very original last wishes in his will when he died in 1996. He wanted to be cremated and have his ashes mixed with ink to be used in comic books. His wish was honored in 1997 when thousands of copies of the 1985 comic Squadron Supreme, which Gruenwald wrote, were issued with ink which included his ashes.
Taking Admiration Too Far
It is one thing to admire a celebrity, but Richard Poncherís last wishes were downright creepy. While Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were divorcing, DiMaggio sold Poncher the crypt directly above the one reserved for Marilyn Monroe at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Years later, Poncher reportedly told his wife he wanted to be buried face down over Marilyn Monroe.
When Poncher died in 1986, he was interred in the crypt above Monroe. Poncher's widow told the press that before his death, Poncher told her if she did not carry out his last wish and bury him face down over Marilyn Monroe, he would haunt her for eternity. She claims to have carried out this last wish with the help of the funeral director.Poncher was interred in the crypt for 23 years when his widow listed it for sale on an online auction site with a starting bid of $500,000. Mrs. Poncher indicated she planned to have her husband's remains moved from the crypt above Monroe into the one nearby he purchased for her.Update: Apparently, there are more than a few people whose last wishes include being near the remains of Marilyn Monroe. After the death of Hugh Hefner in September of 2017, it was reported his remains will be interred next to Marilyn Monroe. Various news reports indicate Hefner purchased a space next to that of Marilyn Monroe decades ago. This confirms what I have stated on Pennyborn.com many times. A person's last wishes may be difficult for other people to understand.
Leave Last Wishes Instructions in Your Will
Jack Woodward, a British pub landlord, knew where he wanted to spend eternity. His last wish was to be buried in his bar, the Boat Inn, surrounded by regulars. When he died in 2008 at age 83, his cremated remains were buried in the bar beneath a flagstone with a plaque which reads: Stand here and have a drink on me. Mr. Woodward left very detailed instructions in his will outlining his choice of final resting place. He wanted his ashes placed in an oak casket and buried beneath a flagstone near the open fire in the Top Bar of the Boat Inn.
Woodward was born in the pub and began working there at age 14. He lived there until a few weeks prior to his death. He said the churchyard was too cold a place to be buried.
You can use estate planning software to write your own will and leave instructions to your survivors regarding final arrangements. If you have questions about whether your unique last wishes will be honored or legally enforceable, see finding an attorney.
Last Wishes and Your Favorite Hobbies
Including your favorite sport, hobby or activity in your last wishes is part of a trend in funeral planning. For example, a few years ago, an individual that loved bowling had a bowling ball urn made for his cremated ashes. Today, you can purchase bowling ball urns and bowling pin urns online. This is an example of a way to incorporate your hobbies or love of a great sport into your memorial preferences.
Popular Last Wishes
This page features stories of unique last wishes. For a list of the most popular ways people want to be buried or memorialized after they pass, see our Popular Last Wishes page.Article updated on September 29, 2017.