Created By: shimaspawn on October 17, 2012 Last Edited By: Stratadrake on December 17, 2012
Troped

Lost Will and Testament

Someone's will has gone missing leaving things in turmoil.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Some people just can't die in a neat and orderly fashion. Their wills, the listing of their last wishes, have gone missing and as a result their possessions are being fought over. Sometimes the will has been intentionally hidden to keep it out of the wrong hands. Sometimes it's been stolen by someone who wants to get something out of it. Sometimes it's just been misplaced.


Examples:

Film
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit centres around tracking down a missing will in order for the toons to save Toontown.
  • The central MacGuffin in the 1997 film adaptation of The Borrowers is the missing will of the owner of the house. If it isn't found, the building will be demolished.

Literature
  • The first book in the Nancy Drew series, The Secret of the Old Clock has this as the plot.
  • Judge Dee: one case deals with a former governor dying, and his first son kicking out the governor's second wife and child. Though it was certain the governor would leave his wife something, the son produced a will that left her nothing. Judge Dee finds the real will over the course of the story.
  • There's a Miss Marple short story by Agatha Christie called Motive Vs. Opportunity, where the will had been recently rewritten to leave all the dead man's money to a Phony Psychic, instead of his family. However, when the envelope that should have contained the will is opened, all it contains is a piece of blank paper. Then it's subverted, as the will is still right where it was, it was just written with disappearing ink.

Live Action TV
  • In a throwaway line from the second series of Arrested Development, Barry Zuckercorn starts talking nonsense to try to fudge the fact that he lost George Sr.'s will. He is rescued at the last minute by the fact that George isn't dead.
  • In an old episode of Poirot called 'The Case Of The Missing Will', this happens after a dying man asks Poirot to be the executor of his new will. The man dies before he can write it and the previous one is discovered missing, stolen in fact.

Theatre
  • Any Number Can Die: Just as the will is about to be read the lights go out and when they come back on the will is gone. However it is immediately revealed that Hannibal, the detective, has it. Being Genre Savvy he grabbed it before anyone else could. It later ends up missing anyway.
Community Feedback Replies: 34
  • October 17, 2012
    Darthcaliber
    Theater example:

    Any Number Can Die: Just as the will is about to be read the lights go out and when they come back on the will is gone. However it is immediately revealed that Hannibal, the detective, has it. Being Genre Savvy he grabbed it before anyone else could. It later ends up missing anyway.
  • October 18, 2012
    lilliterra
    The first book in the Nancy Drew series has this as the plot.
  • October 19, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    In a throwaway line from the second series of Arrested Development Barry Zuckercorn starts talking nonsense to try to fugdge the fact that he lost George Sr's will. He is rescued at the last minute by the fact that George isn't dead.
  • October 19, 2012
    Chabal2
    Judge Dee: one case deals with a former governor dying, and his first son kicking out the governor's second wife and child. Though it was certain the governor would leave his wife something, the son produced a will that left her nothing. Judge Dee finds the real will over the course of the story.
  • October 22, 2012
    lu127
    I think we also made this YKTTW on the subject.
  • October 23, 2012
    shimaspawn
    I'll go through and add the examples to this one.
  • October 23, 2012
    makesadifference
    In an old episode of Poirot called 'The Case Of The Missing Will', this happens after a dying man asks Poirot to be the executor of his new will. The man dies before he can write it and the previous one is discovered missing, stolen in fact.

    This was a dramatisation of Agatha Christie's story of the same name.
  • October 23, 2012
    KZN02
    Does this trope apply to wills that are partially missing?
  • November 6, 2012
    azul120
    I imagine it would. In which case, the episode of South Park where Kenny ends up in a vegetative state certainly applies.
  • November 7, 2012
    Irrisia
    To add another Agatha Christie example; There's also a Miss Marple short story called Motive Vs. Opportunity, where the will had been recently rewritten to leave all the dead man's money to a Phony Psychic, instead of his family. However, when the envelope that should have contained the will is opened, all it contains is a piece of blank paper. Then it's subverted, as the will is still right where it was, it was just written with disappearing ink.
  • November 10, 2012
    troacctid
    • The central Mac Guffin in the 1997 film adaptation of The Borrowers is the missing will of the owner of the house. If it isn't found, the building will be demolished.
  • November 17, 2012
    DracMonster
    Probably needs a better name, sounds like a guy named William is missing.

    Lost Will And Testament, perhaps?
  • November 17, 2012
    aurora369
    In XVIII-century Russia, imperial succession was resolved more or less by wills (and the Praetorian Guard who decided if the particular will is the real thing). Much hoopla was caused by tsars who died in a less than legitimate fashion, their successors and pretenders producing forged wills.
  • November 18, 2012
    Arivne
  • November 24, 2012
    troacctid
    I don't mind Missing Will, but Lost Will And Testament is quite clever and I like it better.
  • November 25, 2012
    lu127
  • November 25, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
  • November 25, 2012
    CarrieVS
  • November 25, 2012
    PaulA
    An example of "intentionally hidden to keep it out of the wrong hands" is the Lord Peter Wimsey story "The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager's Will": Meleager Finch hides his will and leaves his niece a set of clues to its location.
  • November 30, 2012
    Lavalyte
  • December 3, 2012
    PaulA
    ^ That could be confused with the case where the person never made a will in the first place.
  • December 3, 2012
    PaulA
  • December 3, 2012
    Stratadrake
  • December 3, 2012
    Prfnoff
  • December 4, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Okay, we agree on the title, let's fix the description. How the blazing hell can somebody mix up "positions" and "possessions" is beyond me.
  • December 4, 2012
    DracMonster
    ^Well, a Horny Devil would probably use demonic positions, right?
  • December 4, 2012
    Stratadrake
  • December 5, 2012
    DracMonster
  • December 6, 2012
    shimaspawn
    Right. I blame autocorrect. Any more examples?
  • December 6, 2012
    Stratadrake
    (There's a whole website dedicated to blaming autocorrect.)
  • December 9, 2012
    shimaspawn
    So, examples?
  • December 14, 2012
    lu127
    Bump. Cookie to whoever gives examples!
  • December 15, 2012
    Tallens
    Seen It A Million Times, but darned if I can think of any of them.
  • December 17, 2012
    lu127
    Awww, but it really needs some.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ksz2hrlkc70dr0y0eqmd5caf&trope=LostWillAndTestament