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.