Thursday, April 22, 2010
A recent New York Times article offers the following details about Mark Twain's will, which the article suggests was clearly drafted by a lawyer, and not Twain, because of its bland writing.
- Despite being almost broke ten years before his death, Twain left behind an estate valued at $500,000.
- Twain's will was probated in Redding, Connecticut.
- The will split his estate between his two daughters, stating that each daughter was free to enjoy her share without control or interference of her husband.
- Only one of Twain's daughter's survived him and her only child predeceased her, effectively ending Twain's line of heirs.
Ultimately, Twain's estate may have undervalued his manuscripts by calling them worthless. Sotheby's announced yesterday that in honor of the 100th anniversary of Twain's death, it will be auctioning off one of Twain's manuscripts, a 65-page memoir called "A Family Sketch."
See Alison Leigh Cowan, Twain's Heavily Lawyered Last Words, NY Times, April 20, 2010; AP, Sotheby's to auction manuscript by America's Mark Twain, April 21, 2010; see also these fascinating photos of hand-written probate records from Twain's estate, including Twain's will.
Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for brining this to my attention.