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Famous Wills: A Look into the Last Testaments of History’s Most Iconic Figures.

Updated: Feb 7

Throughout history, famous individuals have left behind a lasting legacy through their deeds and accomplishments. However, many of these individuals also left behind something else: a will.

A will, also known by some as a last testament, is a legal document that outlines how an individual’s assets and possessions will be distributed after their death. For famous individuals, their wills can offer us a glimpse into their final wishes and priorities. In this article, let’s take a look at some of the most famous wills in history and examine the legacies left behind by these iconic figures.

Abraham Lincoln: A Will focused on Family & Education

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow, by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln

One of the most famous wills in history belongs to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. Lincoln’s will was written just a month before his assassination in 1865 and was a relatively short and simple Will. In his Will, Lincoln leaves most of his assets to his wife and children, with a special emphasis on providing for their education. He also set aside a small sum for the education of poor children in the District of Columbia. Abraham Lincoln’s Will reflected his priorities as a family man and his belief in the importance of education. It also serves as a reminder of his enduring legacy as a leader who fought to abolish slavery.

Just as Lincoln left a charity gift, so can you. Here at Thomas Bradley Legal, we offer free wills to over 50s, all we ask is that you consider leaving a Gift to charity. To find out more about this - visit our charities page.

Martin Luther King Jr: A Will Guided by a Vision for Civil Rights

“The time is always right to do what is right.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Another famous will belongs to Martin Luther King Jr, the civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.

Dr King’s Will was written in the months leading up to his assassination in 1968, his Will was guided by his vision for civil rights and equality. He left a significant portion of his assets to various civil rights organisations, including the Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). Martin Luther King’s Will also detailed provisions for his wife and children, but it was clear that his primary focus was continuing the work of the civil rights movement.

Many of us have causes that we are passionate about, whether it be supporting our local community or providing resources to families on the other side of the world. Just like King, we too can leave something for the causes we care about.

Princess Diana: A Will Reflecting a Desire to Make a Difference

“I want my boys to have an understanding of people’s emotions, their insecurities, people’s distress, and their hopes and dreams.” – Princess Dianna

The final Will we’ll be discussing today belongs to the beloved Princess of Wales, Princess Diana – who tragically passed away in 1997. Diana’s Will, was written just a few years before her death. Her Will reflected her desire to make a difference in the world. She left a significant portion of her assets to various charities, including organisations focused on children and the homeless. Princess Diana also included provisions for her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, but it was clear that her primary focus was on using her resources to help others.

Famous wills offer a glimpse into the final wishes and priorities of history’s most iconic figures. From Abraham Lincoln’s emphasis on family and education to Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment to civil rights and equality, these wills serve as a reminder of the legacies left behind by these individuals.

As we look at the famous wills of these individuals, it is important to remember that although they were leaders in their respective fields, they were also individuals with families, passions and priorities just like all of us.


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