Most wills and trusts drawn up in Los Angeles County name the person’s family members, perhaps along with favorite charities, as beneficiaries. But some people may not have families or many close friends. In cases like that, the person’s will may name surprising beneficiaries, including people he or she barely knows — if they have met at all.
In an interesting example, a man who died over the summer left most of his estate, which is estimated in the high six figures, to two Hollywood actors that he admired but did not know personally. The decedent never married or had children. He lived alone on his farm and was described as eccentric and a lover of animals by his neighbor, one of his few friends.
We may never know exactly why the decedent chose to leave his estate to the two actors. He describes the two men as his “friends” in his will, but it appears that contact between him and the actors was limited to fan letters and notes written by them in reply. One of the decedent’s favorite films was a 1977 TV movie called “Lucan” that starred one of the actors. The other starred in a short-lived TV series called “The Powers of Matthew Star” that aired during the 1981-82 season.
Both beneficiaries were skeptical when told that a stranger had left them all but $5,000 of his estate, with the rest going to an organization that combats animal cruelty. The descendant’s farm is 160 acres and could sell for up to $1 million. But the will made it through probate and is legitimate. The attorney is hoping that they will participate in a fundraiser in the decedent’s honor to benefit animal shelters.
Source: The State Journal-Register, “Broadwell man leaves estate to actors he never met,” Dave Bakke, Feb. 7, 2013
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