Dec 5

Who Says an Estate Plan Can’t be Funny?

Who says an estate plan can’t be funny? Certainly not this guy …

Charles Vance Miller was a prominent Canadian attorney who practiced law from 1881 until his death in 1926. Miller, who died a childless bachelor at age seventy three, made some smart investments and built a considerable estate for himself.

Aside from being an accomplished attorney and investor, Miller also fancied himself a prankster and practical joker. His humor often poked fun at the greedy. It was said he believed everyone had a price. The trick was finding what it was.

One of Miller’s favorite pranks was leaving one dollar bills on the sidewalk then watching people’s expressions as they scooped them up.

Miller himself died on Halloween day, 1926. But even death wasn’t obstacle enough for his wit.
Charles Vance Miller was survived by an iron clad Will forged in the fire of the man’s unusual sense of humor.

In the Will, Miller bequeathed valuable shares of an Ontario Jockey Club to three men. (Two of which were outspokenly opposed to racetrack gambling).

Another provision bequeathed the use of a Jamaican time share to be shared amongst three attorneys who greatly despised one another.

Yet another provision, bequeathed one share of the Kenilworth Jockey Club to every practicing minister in three nearby towns. The shares were agonized over … and ended up being worth half a cent each.

But those pranks failed in comparison to one …

In his Will, Miller requested that all remaining possessions be sold and converted into money within nine years of his death, so that in the tenth year, the money could be used to pay one Toronto mother who within that ten years, conceived the most children.

The event would come to be named “The Great Toronto Stork Derby.”

Having died during the roaring twenties, it was very doubtful that Miller had any idea the nineteen-thirties would usher in a great depression.

If the desperation caused by the depression was the fuel, then Miller’s generous offering was the fire. The press ate it up. People were proverbially glued to their seats to see who would win.

In the end, four families split the reward. The mothers had nine children apiece for a payout of one hundred twenty thousand dollars each.

By all accounts, the money was put to good use. Instead of frivolous spending, the money reportedly went towards purchasing homes, automobiles, and educations for the children. And the rest as they say … is history.

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