Daniel Sharp said he was "shocked" by the generosity of a man he knew only briefly.
Doesn't seem like such a pain now, does it? (stock photo)
Kindness is its own reward. Especially when it comes with piles of cash. 45-year-old Daniel Sharp, of Kent in the UK, learned that lesson after he volunteered to help out 75-year-old Ronald Butcher. Sharp, a builder by trade, cleaned out the gutters on Butcher's bungalow in Enfield, but when Butcher offered to pay him, he refused. "It was a nothing job that took seconds," he said.
The two men struck up a casual friendship. They were both interested in DIY projects, and Butcher liked hearing about Sharp's son. Sharp would check in on Butcher whenever he was in the area, which wasn't frequently. That's why it was such a shock to him just a few months later, when he learned that Butcher had died and left his entire £500,000 fortune to him.
The will, drawn up briefly after Sharp had first cleaned Butcher's gutters in January 2013, replaced a previous will dated December 2011, which named three others as beneficiaries: Butcher's elderly cousin Joyce Gilkerson, along with Evelyn Hutchins and Peter Rogers, the daughter and son of Butcher's close friend from school. They say they thought of him as their "Uncle Ron."
Now, those three have taken Sharp to court, saying that he coerced Butcher into changing his will and is "lying" about being his friend. Now it's up to a judge to decide whether Butcher was fully aware of what he was doing when he changed the will. Mrs. Hutchins's lawyer concedes that the will is not a forgery and and that Butcher had the mental capacity to make a will, but that the odd change should "excite suspicion." She is maintaining that the document was not Butcher's "last true wish."
It is true that it's a surprising change, but it's the three family members' claims that seem suspicious to me. They claim that Butcher had "lots of friends" and that they were still in touch with him, but Butcher's body wasn't found for two months after he died. That doesn't help their case at all. Also, Sharp would have to be a pretty cunning con man to convince a near-stranger to leave him all his money against his will, even if the man wasn't in his right mind. And there's no evidence of that.
Ultimately, the judge will have to decide. But that doesn't mean we can't have fun coming to our own conclusions. That's what the Internet is about. And personally, I prefer the explanation that's inspiring instead of deeply cynical.