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.
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 our Memorial Preferences page.
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.
Shakespeare's Last Wishes
If you are a literary buff, you may enjoy reading Will's Will: The Last Wishes of William Shakespeare (National Archives).
Taking Admiration Too Far
It's one thing to admire a celebrity, but Richard Poncherís last wish was 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 Ebay 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.
A Warmer Place to Spend Eternity
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.