Hilda Robinson, who died aged 94, provided for her extensive family during her lifetime, but decided to leave her pounds 1.4m fortune to charities.
Mrs Robinson acquired her wealth from her family's pioneering radio rental business and with her husband brought television rental to Britain. But she explained to her relatives in her will that she felt they would be happier without an inheritance. "I love all my family very deeply but noticing the great unhappiness that inherited wealth has brought to my family I do not wish to leave any money directly to my children as they have all received reasonable provision and first- class education in my lifetime. I hope they will understand my wishes," she wrote.
Those who knew Mrs Robinson said her will was a characteristically single- minded gesture from "a grand old lady". The Rev Malcolm Atherton, of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, who conducted a thanksgiving service for her earlier this year, said: "It is just typical of her, it is splendid...I think what she was trying to get across was that money is a mixed blessing. She herself got a lot of joy and a lot of heartache out of it."
Mr Atherton, minister at Trinity Church, where Mrs Robinson was a regular worshipper, stressed that during her lifetime she had provided financially for her extensive family. She had three daughters, two sons and more than 30 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. "All her family have done well and are living fulfilled lives and I think she simply felt they did not need the money," Mr Atherton said. "She had seen lives ruined by people over-indulging in money. Although she made sure her family had enough, she believed they did not need any more."
Mrs Robinson, he said, had travelled widely. She died in a nursing home at Wincanton, Somerset, last December, leaving a total of pounds 1,358,805 to the Methodist Missionary Society, the National Children's Home, the Friends of Tewkesbury Abbey, and the Canon Collins Educational Trust for Southern Africa.
Details of individual bequests are not generally known, but the Methodist Society confirmed she left it pounds 400,000.
Mrs Robinson met her husband, Joseph, on a blind date. In the 1930s they set up Rediffusion and Radio Rentals with pounds 100 capital. Some 30 years later the family shared the proceeds of the pounds 6m sale of Radio Rentals to Thorn. She and her husband divorced in 1960.
t A pensioner who lived in a modest flat and shuffled around in old waterproof trousers has left more than pounds 1m in his will. Neighbours in Bristol knew John Chapman as a man who carried tatty plastic shopping bags and dined on a bowl of tinned soup every day. The former bank manager lived for more than 30 years in a two-bedroom flat worth pounds 53,000. Mr Chapman had no family but left an estate of pounds 1,207,278, Lloyds Bank Trustees confirmed.