One man’s good deed may have been the best decision of his life. When Daniel Sharp reportedly cleaned Ronald Butcher’s gutters for free, the two became friends.
Then in March 2013, Butcher died at the age of 75 and instead of leaving his inheritance, which amounted to over $700,000, to his family, he gave it all to Sharp, reported the London Evening Standard.
Butcher reportedly changed his will two months before he died, and his family is disputing the new bequest. Sharp said he was stunned he was included in the will and maintains he had nothing to do with the sudden change.
Joyce Gilkerson, Butcher's cousin, and Evelyn Hutchins and her brother Peter Rogers – both children of a close friend who called Butcher "Uncle Ron" – asked Judge Lesley Anderson QC to nullify the will in favor of an earlier version which listed them as the heirs.
The three relatives were all equal heirs of Butcher’s previous will. Sharp and Butcher were friends for six years before the 73-year-old died.
Sharp’s lawyer spoke of their friendship in court, according to the Evening Standard:
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.
Araba Taylor, Hutchins’ lawyer, didn’t dispute that Butcher was mentally stable when he made the decision, but she told Anderson that the "odd" nature of the change ought to "excite suspicion."
Sharp’s lawyer said Hutchins "slowly lost contact" with Butcher, but she denied the allegation. She did, however, admit that she and her brother saw less of him after their mother died.
Butcher’s body was reportedly not discovered until two months after he passed away in his Enfield, England, home.
“One or other of us would go and see him every break we had,” Hutchins said on the witness stand. "I had tried to pop in around March and had phoned.”
During the trial, Sharp told the judge he’s appreciative of Butcher’s gift.
"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," Sharp said. "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."
A verdict in the case has yet to be reported.