Who Says Estate Planning Can’t be Funny?

Charles Vance Miller was a prominent Canadian attorney who practiced law from 1881 until his death in 1926. Miller, who died a bachelor at 73, 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. He believed that everyone has a price — the trick is in finding out what it is. Even death wasn’t enough to stop his wit. He was survived by an iron-clad will forged in the fire of his unusual sense of humor. In the will, Miller bequeathed the use of a Jamaican timeshare to be shared by three attorneys who greatly despised one another. He also bequeathed valuable shares of the Ontario Jockey Club to three men, two of which were outspokenly opposed to racetrack gambling. However, those pranks pale in comparison to one unusual section of his will. Miller left instructions that all of his remaining possessions were to be sold within 9 years of his death. In the 10th year, the money would be given to the Toronto mother who, within that 10 years, conceived the most children. The event would come to be called “The Great Toronto Stork Derby.” Having died in the Roaring Twenties, it was doubtful that Miller had any idea that the 1930s would usher in a great depression. The press were proverbially glued to their seats to see who would win. In the end, 4 families split the reward. The mothers each had 9 children, for a payout of $120,000 ($1.9 million today) each. By all accounts, the money was put to good use. Instead of frivolous spending, the funds went towards purchasing homes, automobiles, and educations for the children. The rest as they say … is history.