The man who left his money to Christ: the UK's oddest wills

Albert Orton's will

The wife of Albert Orton must really have regretted calling her husband a 'rotten old pig' for breaking wind. When he died in 1888, he left her only half a farthing in his will out of disgust at her unkindness.

The story is just one of many unearthed by genealogy firm Fraser and Fraser, which has collated some of the strangest requests it's ever discovered in a will.

Others include the man who left £26,000 to Jesus Christ - provided his identity could be established.

Some show extraordinary animosity, such as the will of Annie Langabeer, from Sutton in Surrey, who died aged 59 in 1932. She stipulated in her will that her brother-in-law, Daniel Jones, should be paid two shillings and sixpence to enable him to purchase a rope to hang himself with.

Others show attempts to control family members from beyond the grave. Frank Smith, from Romsey in Hampshire, died in November 1942, leaving all his possessions to his daughter - with one condition. If she continued living with her 'immoral husband' or allowing him to benefit from the inheritance, Smith wrote, the whole lot was go to the Exchequer.

Fraser and Fraser staff have pored through an astonishing 200,000 wills while trying to trace people's family trees.

"We have looked through around 200,000 wills since 1969 and it's quite hard to spot the unusual lines because they are typically just one paragraph in a five page document," says partner BNeil Fraser.

"But every now and again you will stumble across a funny line, paragraph or strange request which makes us laugh in the office.
I think there is always a place for humour in a will. The older wills are certainly a lot more formal, and that is because they would have all been written by a solicitor."

But while these wills may be bizarre, at least they exist - research has shown that as many as six in ten people in the UK don't have a valid will. Many people believe, wrongly, that if they die intestate, their spouse gets everything, but this isn't necessarily the case.

"Having a will is the only way to ensure that your estate is dealt with in the exact same way you want it to be," says Fraser.

"You can write anything in your will, including bizarre requests, and this list proves that. If you write in your will that you want people to have a barbecue after you die and the people only ate horse meat burgers - that will happen."

7 ways to improve your retirement
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The man who left his money to Christ: the UK's oddest wills

If, like many Britons, you have failed to save the cash you need to maintain a comfortable standard of living in retirement, one option is to sell your home and downsize to a smaller property, using the money leftover to cover your living costs.
If moving out of the family home is too much of a wrench, however, the good news is that equity release schemes allow you to stay in your house or flat while still using the equity built up in it to provide some extra cash. The downside of the schemes, which work a bit like mortgages, is that you may not have much left to pass on to any children or other relatives.
But that's a small price to pay for a reasonable standard of living. For more information, try Age UK on 0800 169 6565.

Choosing the right annuity can have a significant impact on your retirement income. And as with most pensions, you automatically have what's called an 'open-market option' (OMO), you can scour the market for the highest annuity rate.
It is worth checking what your pension provider is offering first, though, as some companies offer guaranteed rates for existing customers that are likely to beat those available elsewhere. The Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047 is a good place to get some free advice.

On retirement, most people convert their pension fund into a guaranteed income annuity that pays out the same amount every month for the rest of their lives.
However, you can also choose an increasing annuity that pays out smaller amounts in the first few years but offers larger payments further down the line. This may prove a wise move if the rate of inflation remains at over 2%.

It is now easier to work later in life because the "default retirement age" has been scrapped.
People approaching retirement age and worrying about money can therefore choose to work for a few years longer - potentially transforming their financial situation. Other than the extra income from working, these people can look forward to higher state pensions, and higher annuity rates due to their greater age.
They can also benefit from bigger tax allowances and the fact that they no longer have to pay National Insurance contributions. Check out this nidirect website for more details.

You could get a much better rate with an impaired-life annuity if you have a medical condition that is likely to reduce your life expectancy.
Incredibly, even snoring, which is a common symptom of Sleep Apnoea could have an impact.
According to figures from MGM Advantage, a man with this condition could receive an extra £12,000 retirement income over the course of their retirement - or £571.44 extra money each year. Click here to find out more.

To maximise your retirement income, it is vital to ensure that you are receiving all the benefits to which you are entitled. These include the basic State Pension, and in some cases, the additional State Pension.
If you are on a low income, you could also qualify for the guaranteed element of Pension Credit, while those with some savings may get the savings element of this benefit. For more information about these and other benefits such as the Winter Fuel Payment, click here.

Many older couples rely on the pension income of one person - often the man. Should that person die first, the other person can therefore be left in a difficult position financially.
One way to prevent financial hardship for the surviving person is to take out a joint life annuity that will continue to pay out up to 67% of the original payments to the surviving partner should one of them die.
The disadvantage of this approach, however, is that the rate you receive will be lower. Again, the Pensions Advisory Service on 0845 601 2923 is a useful first port of call if you are unsure what to do.


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