Inheritance, Inherited Property

Strangest Real Estate Stories of All Time

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Inheriting a house isn’t always a benefit to the heirs, as these bizarre inherited house stories prove.

The Lap (Dogs) of Luxury

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Sometimes, the strangest thing about an inherited house is those who inherit it. In the story of Gail Posner, a woman who lived in a house over 10,000 square feet on Biscayne Bay in Miami, the most important outcome of her inheritance was that her three beloved dogs were well taken care of after her death.

Lucia, a Yorkshire terrier, Conchita, a Chihuahua, and April Maria, a Maltese are the lucky recipients of Posner’s home, which last sold in 2021 for $20.5 million, as well as a $3 million trust fund. Posner also left millions to some of her household servants, under the condition that each person promised to care for her pets after she passed.

Not A huge fan

This decision wasn’t entirely without trouble. Posner’s son Bret Carr, who received a “scant” $1 million, wasn’t exactly thrilled with her decision. He filed a lawsuit to fight it, alleging that her staff, which, remember, inherited as much as $27 million collectively, had forced her to change her will in this manner. That had to be an interesting story for the attorney who took the job!

Or maybe it’s all in fun? Carr is a filmmaker known for making parody shorts and for his sense of humor. Whatever the case, the week the story broke, Posner and her pampered pooches were the talk of the town. And the dogs were able to continue their life of traveling to spa appointments in their golden Escalade.

The Hideout Shootout

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The strange background of one property started years and years ago when Carson Bradford accepted a very high offer to rent out a waterfront property on Lake Weir in Florida. That was back in 1928, and the woman called “Mrs. Blackburn” who rented the house turned out to be one “Ma Barker”, and she and her youngest son were on the lam.

Old Family History

A couple months after Bradford had finally accepted Ma Barker’s incredible amount of money to rent the home, the FBI arrived and ordered her and her son to come out for their arrest. But Fred Barker and his mother didn’t go down easily; they began shooting, and when all was said and done, over two-thousand shots had been fired, and the house was riddled with bullet holes. Fred and his mother died in the shooting.

As it turns out, the feds had arrested one of Ma’s older children, Fred’s brother Arthur “Doc” Barker in Chicago and had found a map with “Ocklawaha” circled. That’s the town in central Florida where the Lake Weir property rested.

Modern Family Members

Future generations of Bradford’s descendants struggled with whether to sell the historic and, allegedly, haunted property. Carson Good is the great-grandson of the original Bradford and told the story of the house on “Strange Inheritance”, a show hosted by Jamie Colby.

Good’s sister, Elizabeth Cockrell, talks about strange noises in the house passed down by her great-grandfather. The family eventually decided that preserving the legacy of the house was important enough to hold out for the best offer.

And they got it. They were offered $750,000 for the land the house was on, which allowed them to load it up onto a barge and send it across the lake to a site the county had set aside for a museum.

This Old House… er, Town

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What if instead of leaving a house and a mortgage to your kids, you decided to bequeath your children an entire town? That’s what David Stawovy’s dad did, and now Stawovy’s estate is the town of Reduction, a small area about four hours west of Reading, Pennsylvania.

The unusual name of the town is because it was named for the American Reduction Company. In the early and mid 1930s, the company accepted garbage from Pittsburgh and “reduced” it under high heat. Reduction was the area where the company housed workers from the nearby plant that was used to process this waste.

In 1948, 12 years after the plant closed, John Stawovy, David’s dad, was looking to buy a house in the village, which was near his dairy farm. An official from the company convinced him, rather than purchasing one house, to buy the entire area for $10,000, renaming the area Amelia R. Stawovy Estates, after his wife, David’s mother.

the inheritance

John died in 2014, leaving the village to his children, David and his brother and two sisters. David, a schoolteacher, took over after his father’s death, becoming the landlord, mayor, and handyman for the 60 people living there. John’s wife and David’s mother died in 2016.

As of 2018, David was determining what to do with the land. His children weren’t particularly interested in the inherited land and old houses, so David and his brother and sisters decided to sell. In 2017, they listed the village for $1.5 million.

Reports from tenants are that David is a great guy. Despite a pretty sizable figure from some of the interested buyers, David had the idea not to accept any pay until the buyers promised to give the residents a full year to move out, and his siblings agreed with their brother. Although it’s harder to sell under those conditions, David felt he owed it to the residents, who are friends and neighbors.

Acting Assets

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Ray Fulk lived alone when he died; he didn’t have a child or even a brother or parents nor a person who might be able to inherit his considerable amount of money, his house, and his other assets. He made the rather strange and wonderful decision to give the inheritance to a guy he’d never even met actually, two guys he’d never met.

The strangers

Fulk wanted to leave his wealth to two men who told stories, who created good memories: two actors, Kevin Brophy and Peter Barton. Barton played Dr. Granger in “The Young and the Restless”, a soap opera that we can assume Fulk liked to spend his time watching. Brophy played the role of Lucan in the show of the same name. Some hypothesize that Fulk’s love of dogs and other animals led him to find joy in these videos and stories about a man raised by wolves.

At the age of 71, Fulk died, but not before leaving his home and most of his estate to the two actors, to be split evenly. Apparently, their stories were so impactful to his life that they inherited his things without ever having met him!

A Real Gold Mine

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The Florence mine in aptly-named Goldfield, Nevada has had its share of ups and downs; it changed ownership regularly over the generations. Martin Duffy arrived in Goldfield as a young man and moved on to become a partial owner of the mine and even a state senator for four years.

The mine produced a small fortune after Duffy began leasing it, and shortly afterward, he met his wife, Ruth Grove. Duffy wrote a history of the mine before he died in 1971, and it was this that attracted John Auric to the area at the tender age of 16.

Auric met Ruth (now Ruth Duffy), and they took a shine to each other, enjoying common interests in mining and history. Auric wanted to save the legacy of the mine, and therefore to save her husband’s hard work.

Ruth died in 1996, leaving her stake in Florence to Auric. Her nieces weren’t especially pleased with what happened when they heard she’d left the mine to a “stranger”, but when Ruth and Auric started to create memories and have fun together, it’s no wonder she made the choice she did.

Stranger than Fiction

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Sometimes a favorite book or TV show has a trope about a family with a hefty mortgage, and the daughter has to do something kooky to get the house and pay off her mortgage. Maybe the heroine inherits the house from her rich aunt only after the requirement to wait in the inevitably-haunted house for a full night.

In similar books, the parents are forced into a nursing home in some remote area of South Dakota and the husband gets advice to create a new will, disinheriting the disloyal family. Suddenly the family wants to have more involvement in the life of their parents, but it’s too late, and the family is cut out.

But sometimes, as seen here, life is stranger than fiction. The sister and brother are getting less than the family dog. A man giving his house to someone he’s never met in his life. Sometimes the stories we create can’t hold a candle to the truth.

The Next Story

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opened book to stories about home ownership

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While these sorts of tales may be fun and interesting to read, most people don’t necessarily want to end up in one themselves. It’s one thing to enjoy the bizarre machinations of others, but we wouldn’t want our own families to be concerned about what might happen to their inheritance.

It’s generally a good choice to be sure your affairs are in order and your final wishes are clear while you’re of sound mind and body. Checking with a lawyer may be a good choice for most people, to ensure that what you expect to happen after your passing is what will happen.

And if you want something unusual, it can be helpful to verify whether there might be any legal challenges, before you set it in stone! Be prepared, rather than surprised.

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