Entries in Estate (3)


Illinois Man Leaves Estate to Two Actors He Never Met

Brand X Pictures/Getty Images(LINCOLN, Ill.) -- A man who died last summer willed his estate to two actors he never met, leaving them an estimated half a million dollars each.

Ray Fulk was 71 when he died last July. He lived alone on a 160-acre property in Lincoln, Ill. that he inherited from his father. He had no family or children.

"He was a loner, and a lot of neighbors didn't know who he was," Behle said.

What Fulk did have, though, was an admiration for actors Kevin Brophy and Peter Barton, whom he had never met. He admired them so much that he left his estate to be split between them.

Donald Behle, an estate attorney, said he helped prepare Fulk's will around 1998, and never saw him again. Behle had helped with the estate of Fulk's father, who died in 1997.

Why did Fulk will his estate to the two actors?

"He just said they were friends of his," Behle said, who knew they were actors but did not know Fulk had never met them.

Behle is not sure why he considered them friends, but the State Journal-Register newspaper of Springfield, Ill., says he was a fan of their television shows.

Barton is known for his role as Dr. Scott Grainger in the soap opera The Young and the Restless from 1987 to 1993.

Brophy was in the 1977 show Lucan. Fulk had a poster from the show on the wall of his house, according to the State Journal-Register.

Behle is currently overseeing the sale of Fulk's property, which is appraised at $1,054,000. Behle declined to say how many bidders he has but said that a sale is "imminent."

Fulk also had about $230,000 in cash and CDs.

After Fulk died, Brophy and Barton received letters informing them of the bequest. The two are friends who had acted in the film Hell Night in 1981. They could not be reached for comment.

Barton actually visited Lincoln and Behle to see if the letter was real, Behle said.

"His reaction was disbelief," Behle said. "What would yours be?"

Behle said he enjoyed meeting Barton and giving him a tour of the property, except for the home.

Besides a farm and timber ground, the property also has a home that had plumbing, but for which Fulk did not have running water.

"His house was an absolute filthy mess. We wore masks when we were in there," Behle said.

The only other bequest he left was to the Anti-Cruelty Society, an animal organization in Chicago.

"He loved animals," Behle said, though he said he doesn't know if Fulk was affiliated with the organization.

Trisha Teckenbrock, a spokeswoman for the organization, didn't know how Fulk was associated with the organization either, but she confirmed the group received a letter informing them of the $5,000 donation.

The Anti-Cruelty Society is Chicago's oldest and largest humane society, established in 1899.

"We receive bequests all of the time from people we have never met before," said Teckenbrock. "It is quite an interesting thing when that happens."

Behle said the two actors should expect to receive checks in the mail once the estate is sold.

"It's been one of the oddest things I have ever had to deal with in 30 plus years of practicing law," he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Huguette Clark: Reclusive Heiress' Gifts To Doctors, Nurses Question In Estate Battle

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The generous gifts Huguette Clark lavished upon her doctors and nurses are being questioned in a high-powered battle playing out in a New York courtroom over the late copper heiress' estate.

Ethel Griffin, a court-appointed official, is trying to reclaim $37 million in gifts the reclusive heiress gave to her doctors and nurses over the course of the two decades she lived in New York City hospitals. Clark's estate is said to total around $400 million.

Griffin alleges Clark's mental state could have led her to have been easily manipulated into giving grand gifts to her medical team.

She has also asked the court to investigate whether the hospital where Clark lived for two decades should return a $6 million Edouard Manet painting and whether a Washington art museum should return a $250,000 gift.

Clark's longtime attorney, Wallace Bock, wrote in an affidavit in 2010 before the heiress' death that his client "has always been a strong-willed individual with firm convictions about how her life should be led and who should be privy to her affairs."

Bock said the two nieces and a nephew named in the petition are "very distant relatives of Ms. Clark, who have only recently appeared on the scene."

Clark's last will was believed to have been signed in April 2005, bequeathing most of her fortune to charity. Her private nurse was allocated at least $30 million. However, a will apparently signed just weeks before mandated Clark's estate be left to her 20 great-nieces and great-nephews, who are now fighting a legal battle for the fortune of an aunt they likely never met.

Though Clark had a 42-room apartment on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue and sprawling estates in California and Connecticut, she lived quietly for decades in a hospital room, most recently at Beth Israel Medical Center, dying two weeks shy of her 105th birthday.

"Ms. Clark has explicitly instructed me on many occasions that she does not want visitors and does not want anyone -- including her relatives -- to know where she resides," Bock wrote in a 2010 filing, adding "Ms. Clark has been a very private person for as long as I have known her. She has often expressed to me her desire to maintain her privacy."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Steve Jobs' Death: Where Will His Fortune Go?

Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- The ever-private Steve Jobs was famously secretive when it came to Apple's new products. As with his personal life, the future of Steve Jobs' wealth will also stay under the radar.

While the Apple co-founder's salary was $1 in 2010, Jobs' net worth estimate is at least $6.7 billion as of Sept. 6, according to Bloomberg News. Jobs owned 5.5 million shares of Apple stock, worth about $2.1 billion. The 56-year old Jobs had led the company since 1996, after co-founding the company in 1976 and then resigning as chairman and leaving Apple in 1985.

Tim Bajarin, president of technology consulting firm Creative Strategies in Silicon Valley's Campbell, Calif., said Job's wealth first began to accumulate after he founded Apple. While Jobs' computer company, NeXT, was not notably profitable, Baharin said Jobs' acquisition of Pixar was.

The bulk of his wealth came from his 7.4 percent stake in The Walt Disney Co. -- 138 million shares -- worth $4.4 billion. Jobs acquired Pixar in 1986 and Disney bought the computer animation studio in 2006, placing Jobs on Disney's board of directors. According to Bloomberg, Jobs' Disney stock paid him at least $242 million in dividends before taxes since 2006. Jobs was the single largest shareholder in Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

Given Jobs' vast wealth and penchant for privacy, he likely set up private trusts for his family and charitable purposes, according to Danielle Mayoras, estate planning attorney and co-author of the book Trial & Heirs. Mayoras said it is likely Jobs carefully planned his estate, given his wealth and length of his illness, though there are also individuals who do "not do the proper planning" regardless of one's circumstances.

Attorneys usually help individuals create private trusts, which leave almost no public record, to describe the terms of an inheritance.

"If you do do a trust, there's nothing that goes through the probate court and no public documents," she said. "Unless his family comes forth publicly, we're not going to know how he is distributing his wealth."

Jobs and his wife, Laurene Powell, married in 1991 and had three children: Reed Paul, Erin Sienna, and Eve.

One of the mysteries of his estate is whether he left money for his other family members. He had another daughter, Lisa Brennan Jobs, born in 1978 with his high school girlfriend, Chris Ann Brennan. As an adoptee, Jobs never met his biological father, Abdulfattah John Jandali, who is an executive at a hotel in Reno, Nev.

Mayoras said careful planning would have clearly spelled out who his heirs were and would have minimized any potential conflicts over his estate.

Though Jobs was not public about his financial giving like other wealthy magnates such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, Mayoras said it is likely Jobs included charitable giving in his estate planning, in part because of the tax break donations provide. His wife is a board member of Teach for America, The Global Fund for Women, among a handful of other non-profits. In 1986, Jobs started the Stephen P. Jobs foundation but closed it after a year for reportedly not having enough time, according to the New York Times.

This year, an individual can give away $5 million with no estate taxes. If Jobs properly planned, he and his wife could pass on $10 million without estate taxes. Outside of that limit, depending on the charitable planning, his estate could be taxed at 35 cents on the dollar, said Mayoras.

Jobs and his family lived in the small, wealthy town of Woodside, Calif., about 17 miles from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino in Silicon Valley.

In February, Jobs demolished his Spanish colonial mansion to make way for a smaller residence, despite attempts from a preservation group to relocate the 86-year old historical home. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Jobs bought the mansion in 1984, lived in it for 10 years, rented it, then left it vacant since 2000.

Jobs was not known to have a luxurious lifestyle, often donning his signature black turtleneck, jeans and sneakers during most product presentations.

Bajarin said Jobs' home was beautiful but "not extravagant."

In 1993, Jobs told the Wall Street Journal: "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me…Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful…that's what matters to me."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio