I wouldn't want my fortune to fall into the hands of a cowardly heir who is too intimidated by ghosts.

How can I add a contingency in my will to force them to spend the weekend locked in my Victorian mansion in the country with no phone service before they are eligible to receive their share of my inheritance?

Will I be able to claw back my inheritance if I reveal at the end of the weekend that I faked my death and had been impersonating a ghost the whole time?

  • 3
    FYI, you have to be dead before anyone inherits your stuff. There is no claw-back after death.
    – user6726
    Oct 15, 2021 at 21:28
  • @user6726 He only has to be legally dead, not necessarily physically. Guess there's no need to explain how the former can be true while the latter not necessarily.
    – Greendrake
    Oct 15, 2021 at 23:45
  • 2
    And there is no claw back after legal death.
    – user6726
    Oct 15, 2021 at 23:48
  • 1
    I predict an unmasking by Velma, Daphne, Fred, Shaggy, & Scoobs
    – Tiger Guy
    Oct 16, 2021 at 3:57
  • @user6726 If I am not mistaken, when death has been presumed and property passed, but it later proves that the person is alive, in some but not all cases teh inheritance has been undone. I don't think this is called a "claw back" but it is much the same concept. I suspect if a person intentionally faked his or her own death an "unclean hands" principle might prevent undoing an inheritance. Oct 16, 2021 at 4:03

1 Answer 1


You make spending a night in the house within, say, 3 months of your death, a condition of the bequest

In general, while conditions in wills are ethically questionable, there is generally no legal impediment. They are binding unless:

  • it violates the rule of law;
  • it is uncertain or impossible to fulfil; or
  • it is contrary to established public policy.

Assuming you own the house in question (and still own it when you die) and the house still exists (e.g. it hasn’t burned down) then the condition would be enforceable.

As for your second question: No. See What happens if a person is thought to be dead and their estate is administered, and then they turn up alive?

Also, if you actually faked you death, rather than just being missing, you’re going to jail for fraud.

  • Drat! Foiled again!
    – JohnFx
    Oct 16, 2021 at 15:53
  • I believe it is possible to create conditions that are binding even if they violate the rule of law, are impossible to fulfill; and are contrary to established policy. I recall reading of a wealthy man who left his fortune to a specific nursing home on the condition that it not admit black patients or a prominent university (with no such condition). The nursing home wanted the money and argued that the condition was impossible, but the university got the money.
    – emory
    Oct 17, 2021 at 3:07
  • To get to OP's point, OP should create a chain of beneficiaries. If the first beneficiary satisfies the condition they get the money, but if they don't and the later ones can prove it then they don't get the money.
    – emory
    Oct 17, 2021 at 3:10

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