It is somewhat common these days for the maker of a trust or will to have no heirs, or at least no beneficiaries they actually want to leave anything to. Among these are individuals who, upon their passing, chose to leave their earthly possessions not to kin but to strangers or charitable organizations. Here are five such people whose final acts of giving created legacies of surprise and compassion.
1. Ronald Read
A Vermont gas station attendant and janitor, Ronald Read lived a life marked by frugality. His modest lifestyle belied the wealth he accumulated through shrewd investing. Upon his death in 2014, Read shocked his community by bequeathing a staggering $6 million to local institutions. The Windham County Memorial Hospital and the Brattleboro Public Library received the bulk of his fortune, forever transforming their capabilities and the services they could provide. Read’s unexpected generosity underscored the adage that often the quietest lives harbor the most profound stories.
2. George S. Hutchings
George S. Hutchings, a name unknown to many, crafted a posthumous composition of generosity when he left his $4 million estate to 12 customers of his favorite restaurant in Cumbria, UK. Hutchings, with no close family, decided that his estate would be split among individuals he’d often shared pleasantries with but did not know deeply. This random act of kindness resonated like a melody across the lives of the beneficiaries, proving that the impact of a stranger can sometimes echo as profoundly as that of a lifelong friend.
3. Zell Kravinsky
Kravinsky made headlines not only for donating a kidney to a stranger but also for giving away much of his $45 million real estate fortune to various charities committed to improving global health. His philosophy of “rational altruism” posits that if one can provide immense benefit to others at little cost to oneself, one should do so. Kravinsky’s donations have funded countless health initiatives and continue to benefit individuals worldwide.
4. Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara
A Portuguese aristocrat with eccentricity in spades, Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara turned his will into a lottery. Having no direct heirs, he selected 70 strangers from a Lisbon phone directory to inherit his wealth. His unusual bequest brought unexpected windfalls to a random assortment of people, embodying the randomness of fortune itself.
5. Jane Lotter
Seattle-based writer and comedian Jane Lotter left a poignant legacy through her self-penned obituary, which went viral. In it, she encouraged donations to The Gilda Radner Cancer Fund for Research and Education. Lotter’s estate sale proceeds also went to charity. Her final message resonated with many, turning her last chapter into a continuing narrative of hope and aid for those battling cancer.
These five individuals, in departing from the conventional path of inheritance, each cast ripples of kindness that continue to expand. GetDynasty can help you with your unconventional will or trust, click here to get started for free today.