Recluse Leaves Estate to Actors

February 21, 2013

Authored by: Stephanie Moll and Alan Singer

What to do when you have no friends or family to whom to leave your estate? Why not do what Ray Fulk of Illinois did? Fulk had no family to which he wanted to leave his estate, so he executed a Will leaving $5,000 to his favorite charity, and the rest of his nearly $1,000,000 estate to his two favorite actors, Kevin Brophy (perhaps most famously known for his role in the 1977 television show, Lucan) and Peter Barton (who spent five years on The Young and the Restless in the 80s and 90s and starred in Linda Blair’s 1981 movie, Hell Night), whom he had never met.

According to sources, Fulk lived his life as a recluse on his farm, bathing in a creek (when it was frozen) because he had no running water. He never married and had no children and no close relatives.

Under Illinois law, if Fulk had died without a Will, his estate would have been distributed to his surviving spouse and descendants, if any. Because Fulk had no wife or descendants, then his estate would be distributed to his parents, siblings, or descendants of siblings. Again, it seems Fulk had none of these (or none he cared to claim). In these circumstances, Fulk’s estate would be divided one-half among his maternal grandparents and their descendants, and one-half among his paternal grandparents and their descendants. If Fulk had no such relatives, then his estate would have been distributed to more distant relatives, if any, otherwise to the State of Illinois.

Instead of allowing his estate to be distributed to relatives he did not know, or did not like (Fulk’s neighbor told reporters that Ray did not get along with his parents because he could not hold a job), in 1997, Fulk had his attorney prepare a Will, leaving $5,000 to the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago and the rest to these two strangers, whom he called “my friends”.

For a more in-depth discussion of Wills, see our prior posts, Why Do I Need a Will? And Why do I Need a Will? Part II. And don’t forget to consider whether you need a Revocable Trust, in addition to a Will.