Family Contests Will Of Man Who Left His Fortune To A Handyman He Befriended

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
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A U.K. man, Daniel Sharp, reportedly cleaned up Ronald Butcher’s gutters, refusing any payment, and the pair struck up a friendship. Butcher died at the age of 75 in March 2013 and left £500,000, or about $770,000, to Sharp  cutting out his entire family.

Butcher apparently made change to his will two months before he passed away, but his family disputes that the will reflects his “true last wish,” the London Evening Standard reports. Butcher’s family, which includes his cousin Joyce Gilkerson, and Evelyn Hutchins and Peter Rogers, the children of a close friend who called Butcher “Uncle Ron,” wants Judge Lesley Anderson QC to invalidate the will in favor of an earlier version that names them as beneficiaries. Before the change, the three relatives were reportedly the equal beneficiaries of Butcher's will.

Sharp was surprised he was included in the will and insists he had nothing to do with the change. The two were reportedly friends for six years before Butcher's death.

Sharp’s lawyer said of their friendship: “Mr Butcher was a lonely man who found a friend in Mr Sharp. Mr Butcher knew what he was doing when he made the 2013 will and what its effect would be. They had a shared interest in DIY and he liked to hear about Mr Sharp’s son. That is an explanation why he wanted to make the 2013 will.”

Hutchins’ lawyer, Araba Taylor, didn’t contest that Butcher was of sound mind when he made the will, but she told the judge that the “odd” nature of the change ought to “excite suspicion.”

Butcher’s body wasn’t found until two months after he died in his Enfield, England, home and Hutchins admitted she and her brother saw him more often before her mother died. However, she denied the claim by Sharp's lawyer that she had “slowly lost contact" with Butcher.

“One or other of us would go and see him every break we had,” she said on the witness stand. "I had tried to pop in around March and had phoned.” 

The trial is ongoing, but Sharp said he was grateful to Butcher.

"When I first cleaned out his gutter he offered me a tenner or 20 quid for it, but I said no, I wouldn’t take it," he told the judge. "It was a nothing job that took seconds. I was shocked to be given something like that. It’s life-changing. Nobody gives you nothing in life."

Sources: London Evening Standard, Metro

Photo Source: Image via London Evening Standard (Richard Gittins/Champion News), WikiCommons