Going out with a Bang: Unforgettable Last Wishes

As you give thought to who you might want to give assets to on your passing, or where you would like to choose as your final resting place, here are a few fun examples to get you thinking:

Becoming one with your work

Sometimes passion for one’s work can become consuming. For Mark Gruenwald, that was certainly the case. Mr. Gruenwald had a passion for comic books and spent time working for Marvel writing Captain America and Squadron Supreme. On his passing in 1996, his family learned that his wish was to be cremated, and his ashes incorporated into comic books. It took some time, but his wife was successful in coordinating with Marvel, and Mr. Gruenwald’s ashes were mixed into the ink used to print five thousand copies of the Squadron Supreme series, which was his creation. In the forward of the comic, his wife noted that he “has truly become one with the story.”

Keeping company in the final frontier

The ashes of both Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the 1960s original Star Trek series, and James Doohan, who played Scotty as the Enterprise’s engineer, both went to space. The ashes of Mr. Roddenberry’s wife were also on board. Mr. Roddenberry passed in 1991, and his remains were taken to space by a company called Celestis in 1997. Mr. Doohan passed in 2005 and joined Mr. Roddenberry in space in November, 2014.

Perpetual preparation for reincarnation

John Porter Bowman was a well-known businessman, respected for his integrity and judgment in Stony Creek, New York. He built a lavish mausoleum in Vermont, where he was born, for his wife and daughter who passed before him. It was called the “Taj Mahal of Vermont” by some. Across the street from the cemetery, he build an elaborate Victorian mansion, and called it Laurel Hall. He moved in to the mansion to live across the street from his family. Mr. Bowman then passed in 1891, but his wishes lasted for years. He established a trust fund and named two friends as trustees. The trustees were to ensure that Laurel Hall was kept in “waiting readiness” for him to return once he was reincarnated. There were detailed instructions about how to maintain the property. His friends entrusted the land to the Laurel Glen Cemetery Association. For years the custodian devotedly kept all the clocks wound, left lights on in the windows, kept fires burning in the fire place, and arranged for a hot meal to be prepared at dusk.

Forgetting about the details

Joseph Bisagno passed in California in 1919 leaving a very substantial estate behind. His Will provided his assets were to be divided among “friends who have been kind to me.” Unfortunately, he neglected to mention who any of his friends might be, and what he had in mind by kindness. The courthouse became the place to be as people came out of the woodwork and lined up to claim that they should be deemed one of the friends who were kind to Mr. Bisagno. Even Marjorie Rambeau, a Broadway star, turned up to receive a share of the estate as one of Mr. Bisagno’s many, many “friends.”

As you consider your own last wishes, talking to a professional will ensure that what you have in mind is legal, workable, and containing enough detail that your loved ones will be successful in carrying out your wishes.

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