The process of estate planning usually involves arranging for the transfer of assets to relatives and perhaps some close friends. However, there are no hard and fast rules; you can give inheritances to anyone regardless of the relationship.
It is even possible to leave behind money to people that you do not know personally. Though few of us would take advantage of this possibility, Ray Fulk, who passed away last summer in Illinois, had different ideas.
Fulk was a loner who didn’t have any family, and he had never fathered any children. He lived a somewhat odd life in our modern times, going without running water in his farmhouse.
Though he chose to live simply, he had options because his 160 acres was worth around $1 million, and he was also in possession of over $200,000 in liquidity.
In 1997, he approached a lawyer about drawing up an estate plan. He decided to leave all of his assets except $5,000 to a pair of actors that he had never met.
These actors, Kevin Brophy and Peter Barton, are the heirs to this rather sizable estate. The attorney that drew up the estate plan, Donald Behle, said that Brophy and Barton were shocked to hear about this sudden and unexpected windfall.
In fact, Barton made the trip to Springfield, Illinois, to speak with Behle to make sure that the letter that he received from the attorney was legitimate.
The $5,000 that will not be going to the actors was left to an anti-cruelty humane organization in Chicago.
Fulk was reportedly a fan of the actors’ work, and he had sent them letters. He received brief but polite responses, and presumably he was so touched that he took this rather extraordinary step to express his appreciation.