Entries in Will (4)


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


Amy Winehouse's Fortune: Who Gets It Now?

Samir Hussein/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Candles, heartfelt notes and even bottles of wine and liquor lie outside the home where Amy Winehouse lived. As crowds of fans pay their tribute to a British music sensation gone too soon, the death of the 27-year-old continues to perplex those closest to her.

"We're devastated, and I'm speechless," said Mitch Winehouse, Amy's father, to the group of media and fans that had gathered outside the house Monday morning. "Amy was about one thing, and that was love. Her whole life was devoted to her family and friends, and to you guys as well."

As questions abound regarding the cause of the troubled singer's death, there is also a big question about where Winehouse's vast fortune will go. Winehouse was estimated to be worth between $15 million to $30 million, and many are wondering whether she left anything to her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, or if anything is owed to him.

The tumultuous relationship between Winehouse and Fielder-Civil was made known through the singer's lyrics, their public displays of affection and their frequent drug use. The "Rehab" singer once reportedly carved the words "I love Blake" onto her stomach using a shard of glass.

Though the two were legally married in 2007, their 2009 divorce could be the reason Blake may not get anything at all. Solicitor Julius Brookman, a partner at U.K. firm Brookman Solicitors, said that according to U.K. law, even if Winehouse left something to her husband in a will, it would be rendered null and void after a divorce. "So unless the will indicates that Blake Fielder-Civil was to inherit anything despite the divorce, he gets nothing," Brookman wrote in an email to ABC News.

However, if Winehouse supported Blake while she was alive, he could possibly get something. Under the Inheritance Provisions for Dependents Act, courts can make orders to continue support to someone who depended on a deceased person.

If the singer's estate doesn't go to Fielder-Civil, it is still unclear who it will go to. Brookman said it all depends on her will, and whether she even had one in the first place. In the event Winehouse did not, her wealth, under British law, would be divided among family members.

Toxicology results from Winehouse's autopsy, which was performed Monday, were reportedly inconclusive.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


$100M Fortune Distributed, 92 Years After Man's Death

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAGINAW, Mich.) -- The descendants of Wellington R. Burt, who became fabulously wealthy in the age of the robber barons, will finally inherit his fortune -- 92 years after his death.

Burt, who died in 1919 at age 87 in Saginaw, Mich., made his wealth in the lumber and iron industries. For reasons not described in his will, he stipulated that the majority of his fortune would be distributed 21 years after his last surviving grandchild's death.

That granddaughter died in 1989. Now 12 descendants will split the fortune, estimated at $100 million to $110 million.

Danielle Mayoras, attorney and co-author of the book, Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, said she suspects the reason Burt chose 21 as the year stipulation was because the common law's Rule of Perpetuities. That rule forbids leaving money to anyone 21 years after the death of the last identifiable individual living at the time the will or trust was created.

Christina Alexander Cameron, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Burt, is one of the 12 heirs who agreed among themselves how to split the funds. She and her sister, Cory, will each inherit about $2.6 to $2.9 million.

Press accounts imply that Wellington Burt experienced familial conflicts, which led to the unusual will. Burt had left his children $1,000 to $5,000 annually, relatively small amounts, except for a "favorite son" who he gave $30,000 annually, according to The Saginaw News. Burt, however, cancelled a $5,000 annuity to one of his daughters over a disagreement about her divorce, the newspaper reported. Through a trust he left his secretary $4,000 annually and a cook, housekeeper, coachman and chauffeur each received $1,000 annually.

Since his death, Burt's relatives tried to break the trust in court, claiming Burt was not of sound mind when he created his last testament, and engaged in other legal disputes.

But now a court order mandates that the trust must be distributed by May 21.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Website Helps You be Part of a Stranger’s Will

Image Courtesy of Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A new website service could help you become part of a complete stranger’s will or estate plans. connects individuals and organizations to benefactors who may not have living relatives or friends to be their beneficiaries.

Those interested need only fill out an anonymous "Bequest Request" on the site, which tells why you are interested in becoming a beneficiary. The site will then notify potential benefactors of the interest.

The service is often used to connect charities with those who wish to include such causes in their will or estate.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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