Ray Fulk was 71 years of age when he passed away in Lincoln, Illinois last July. He was a loner – no children or close family -and he stayed pretty much to himself in his old farmhouse in Broadwell. To the rest of the world, it might have appeared that Fulk was down on his luck. He only bathed when the creek on his property was not frozen, because his home had no running water.
But appearances can be deceiving. In addition to over $200,000 in liquid assets, Fulk’s 160 acres of land inherited from his father was worth approximately one million dollars. And Fulk knew exactly what he wanted to do with it.
In 1997, he retained an attorney and executed a will. The named heirs were actors Peter Barton and Kevin Brophy. Barton is most well known for his role as Dr. Scott Grainger on the daytime soap opera, The Young and the Restless. Kevin Brophy reached the pinnacle of his career when he landed the lead role in the short-lived Lucan television series that lasted for one season in the late 70s.
But those 11 episodes were enough to get Ray Fulk’s attention.
According to his attorney, Fulk sent letters to the two actors and they returned the correspondences. He told the lawyer that Brophy and Barton were his “friends.”
Fulk also left a $5,000 bequest to a Chicago area group that fights animal cruelty.
The moral of this story? Had Fulk not had a valid will, his substantial estate might have passed to distant relatives he never knew or worse, to the state. But because Fulk was proactive with his estate planning, he ensured that this assets would be distributed the way he wanted… even if that meant leaving those assets to people he had never met.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday
Parman & Easterday are members of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.