There are all kinds of rich people. There are the ones that worked their way up through the ranks of a company to CEO. There are the ones who had one brilliant idea that took off and made them millions. There are the ones who are born to rich parents, and never have to work a day in their life. Who hasn’t daydreamed after buying a lottery ticket about what they would spend the money on if they won? We all wonder what it would be like to have more money than we could spend in our lifetime, but we realize we will most likely never know.
Inheritances are often expected when an older family member dies. They leave their life insurance to their close family, and it’s enough to cover funeral costs, and other basic needs. But some people don’t leave their money to who you think they will. And sometimes they have a lot more than anyone else was aware of. Here are 10 unbelievable inheritance stories that left unsuspecting people richer than they ever thought possible.
Waitress Cara Woods inherits $500,000 from a customer
17-year old Cara Woods was a waitress in her hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio in 1992 who befriended a regular customer, Bill Cruxton. He was a widow, and she had lost her father when she was 10, so the two became close. Woods would often help Cruxton around his house, and run errands for him, and he said he imagined if he had any kids they would be just like her. Cruxton passed away of heart failure at 82, and he had a picture of Woods in her soccer uniform with him at the hospital. He ended up naming Woods as the main beneficiary, leaving her $500,000, his house, and two cars. Woods invested the money wisely, and used the interest to pay for college where she studied marketing and finance.
17. Portuguese people chosen at random inherit aristocrat’s fortune
Portuguese aristocrat, Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara was a wealthy bachelor with no children when he died of natural causes at the age of 42. Then 70 unsuspecting people got a call saying they were named as beneficiaries in his will. Turned out Luis has chosen 70 random names out of a Lisbon phone directory 13 years before his death, and added them to his will. He had a 12 room apartment, a house, a car, and $25,000 euros, the value of which were split between the 70 strangers he named. In Portugal, wills are not the norm to begin with, and giving your fortune to a bunch of strangers is even crazier.
Homeless brothers inherit $6.6 billion from grandmother they never knew
Zsolt and Geza Peladi were Hungarian brothers so poor that they lived in a cave outside of Budapest, and scavenged for junk to sell for pennies. Their long lost maternal grandmother passed away, and her lawyers contacted charity workers, who found the Peladi brothers to pass along the good news: they were about to be $6.6 billion richer. The brothers had lost touch with their mother after she abandoned them years earlier, and they didn’t even know if their grandmother was aware of their existence. It was only through genealogical research that the lawyers found who to pass along the fortune to, as all the deceased’s known relatives were already dead.
Sergey Sudev inherits 950 million Euros from uncle he barely knew
In October 2008, it had been ten years since journalism student, Sergey Sudev had seen his uncle. So imagine his surprise when he found out that he was inheriting 950 million Euros (that’s $1.3 billion US) from that same uncle. Living in the Republic of Moldova, Sudev could expect to make around $350US a month, but now he is one of the richest people in all of Europe. After the unexpected windfall, Sudev reported that he still planned to finish his journalism degree, and continue his job at a local radio station.
Mort Zachter inherits $6 million from uncles he thought were poor
New York accountant Mort Zachter, grew up seeing his parents work 100 hours a week in a bakery owned by his uncles Henry and Joe. They were paid in leftover bread and cake from the bakery, and life was a constant struggle. It wasn’t until Zachter was 36 that he found out his uncles were a lot more successful than he realized, and they were leaving him their $6 million fortune. Not only that, but his parents had known all along that their son would be the sole heir, and they refused to take any of that money as income, even though they worked hard, and probably deserved it. Zachter went on to document his windfall experience in the autobiography Dough: A Memoir.
Tony Chan inherits $4.2 billion by tricking eccentric woman
Asia’s once-richest woman, Nina Wang rewrote her will after finding out she had cancer, and left her massive fortune to fengshui master, Tony Chan. Allegedly, he told Wang than completing certain fengshui practices (such as including him in her will), would help her live forever. Clearly, since Wang passed away in 2007, that did not work. Her previous will left her estimated $4.2 billion US fortune to her family, and various charities. A law suit was filed immediately, claiming Chan had tricked Wang into changing her will. The courts ended up dismissing the second will, and Chan was arrested under suspicion of forgery. The money went to Wang’s family, and the charities she had originally intended.
Eva Paole inherits $40 million from long lost father
It took a nine year legal battle, and the exhumation of a grandmother’s remains, but retired Argentine maid, Eva Paole, finally legally inherited her birth father’s $40 million fortune. She suspected she might be the daughter of Baron Rufino Otero, but her mother took the truth of her biological father to her grave. Officials had to exhume Otero’s mother in order to compare DNA and confirm Paole’s parentage. They were unable to compare her DNA with Otero himself, because shortly after his death, his tomb was desecrated, and his body switched with another one.
Teenager inherits an island with buried treasure from estranged grandfather
A teenager named Josh had only met his grandfather a few times, but he ended up inheriting an unexpected fortune when that grandfather died, anyway. Samuel did not approve of his daughter’s choice of husband, for religious reasons, but he had a soft spot for his grandson. His will included 80 acres of farmland, and a 36 acre private island. His will also spoke of valuable loose gems and antique jewelery hidden “in the thermos”. Josh’s mother remembered her father talking about his “treasure island” when she was a kid, so the hunt was on for the hidden fortune. The true monetary value of Josh’s inheritance is yet to be seen.
A homeless man flees police who bring news of his $6 million inheritance
67-year-old Tomas Martinez was living on the street in Santa Cruz de le Sierra, Bolivia, when he was approached by police officers who had good news for him. His ex-wife (who he abandoned years earlier) was leaving him her fortune of $6 million. Martinez thought the police were there to arrest him for his drug and alcohol related issues, and he fled without hearing what they had to say. Local newspapers called him the “new millionaire paradoxically not knowing his fortune”. Martinez still hasn’t been located.
Charles Vance Millar leaves his fortune to “the woman with the most kids”
Charles Vance Millar was a successful Canadian lawyer and businessman who loved to play pranks on people that focused on greed. Since, at the time of his death, Millar had no dependents, his will was full of unconventional requests for the distribution of his money. The most famous part of his will required that part of his estate be converted to cash ten years after his death, and given to the woman in Toronto that gave birth to the most children in that time. The ensuing competition became known as “The Great Stork Derby”. Despite various lawsuits to discredit the will, it remained intact, and four women with nine children each ended up splitting the $750,000.