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John F Kennedy’s Last Will and Testament

John F Kennedy’s Last Will and Testament

Although this may come as a great shock to many, John Kennedy is not up for sainthood. If anything, he was as flawed as any other president who had to deal with the pressures and stress accompanying the job that eventually killed him.

He lead a life of great privilege, yet somehow had us believe he was one of us, a regular guy. Recently I read “The Kennedy Detail” which is based upon the memories of several men who served as Secret Service Agents to President Kennedy. It was more than the same events from a different vantage point, it offered a more human side of JFK and how he interacted with those working closely with him and his family. It stressed that although Kennedy understood the human condition, work was work. In his will, Kennedy presents himself in a similar light.

On June 18, 1954, Kennedy formalized 16 pages to speak for him in his absence. In these pages, he paints the usual introduction to his last will and testament in order to set the tone. Then, the document moves on directly to his wife, Jacqueline B. Kennedy. Although he grants her all his personal effects, it shocked me that a man of his means only bequeathed her $25,000.00 in his will.

Once I read on, I understood why in short order. The $25,000 was spending money for Jackie and the real wealth resided in his trusts. His will is a text-book example of the type of document exceptionally wealthy people of his tier would create. Short on sentimentality and long on financial management, it structures the approach he wishes in doling out his estate. It clearly directs the executors of his estate on the guidelines of how to proceed and manage the financial and material wealth this man once held, yet he also makes allowances for their own judgment in many areas.

His executors will not surprise you much: Jacqueline B. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy. Being a sports minded man, he also named his second string players to fill any vacancy: Eunice K. Shriver, Patricia Lawford, and Jean Kennedy. It was as if he understood that others would need to step in the time following his death.

The three staff members witnessing this document are common names in his White House days: T. J. Reardon, administrative aid; Theodore C. Sorenson, special council and speech writer; and Evelyn Lincoln, personal secretary. Amusingly, hers is the only postal zone listed in the addresses given, possibly speaking to her attention to such details.

Enjoy reading this will. You will find it by clicking on the link in the header of this article. In some ways it gives solid insight into Kennedy’s life by seeing how well he prepared for his death.

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