A little bit of kindness will take you a long way, and you never know what you might get in return for your gestures. Daniel Sharp learned that lesson by cleaning the gutters of his 75-year-old neighbor, Ronald Butcher, as a favor. Sharp refused to accept any payment for cleaning out the gutters according to the story. This act of kindness and generosity was brought about due to Butcher, an England native, being an elderly man that Sharp thought could use the help. The good deed struck a chord and they built up a friendship, but that friendship would unfortunately be cut short by the hands of fate.
Butcher tragically passed away in his home in 2013. No one had seen or heard from him in quite some time. As it turns out, Butcher had been deceased for two months until he was discovered in his home. Before he passed, however, Butcher left a sizable inheritance for Sharp in his will. This reward for Sharp’s friendship and kindness would spark a controversial legal battle that Sharp could not have foreseen.
Unbeknownst to Sharp, Butcher was a pensioner who had nearly $800,000 to his name that could be given away upon his death. Sharp was the only beneficiary to the massive monetary wealth. This turn of events has made the Butcher family quite upset. The family of Ronald Butcher staked their own claim to the money and posited their theory on the change to the will: Daniel Sharp altered the will himself and that the ‘good deed’ was a farce. They claim it had all been orchestrated so that Sharp would solely inherit the fortune.
The family is now asking lawyers to honor the will that was made beforehand that left them the entire fortune instead of Sharp. Sharp’s response was one of surprise and he was flabbergasted by the whole situation. It was not only the will that surprised him, but the family’s insistence and aggressiveness towards him for the money. After all, Butcher had laid dead in his house for months and it did not seem as if the family was in close terms or too concerned by his absence. That was, of course, until a sizable amount of money was involved and they came to collect it.
Butcher has appeared to have signed the will in a sound state-of-mind, so it would seem that the wealth awarded to Sharp will be honored. However, Butcher’s family considers the proximity of the change of the will to Butcher’s death to be suspect. Sharp’s lawyer spoke out about the situation and said that, “(Mr. Butcher) found a male friend in Mr. Sharp, and somebody he could chat to. They had a shared interest in (do it yourself projects) and he liked to hear about Mr. Sharp’s son.” It would seem that camaraderie had indeed formed in such a short time if this statement proved true.
On the topic of the money he received, Sharp was quoted as saying, “I was shocked to be given something like that. It’s life changing. I didn’t think he had people to give it to, or obviously they had had an argument…I can’t say the reason why he gave it to me. But if I’m the only one who went around to talk to him…I didn’t know what’s gone on with the others.”
The lawyers on behalf of Butcher’s family are claiming that Sharp had received no gifts before this large sum, so why would Butcher seemingly undeservedly give this man over three-quarters of a million dollars? One lawyer said, “In six years, he gave you nothing. Not even a birthday card, then suddenly he has given you everything he’s got when he’s gone. That is unreal. It needs to be explained because it is so odd.”
Sharp was not appreciative of the lawyer’s comments and saw them as personal attacks on his character. He does a lot of charitable work, so it wasn’t too farfetched that he would take some time to clean an old man’s gutters; it wasn’t a big deal to him. He admitted that the two weren’t extremely close, and they were mostly just friendly acquaintances that chatted every now and then. However, this would appear to have been more often than Butcher’s family communicated with the deceased. Sharp was not even permitted to attend the funeral because of the potential commotion that could have been caused due to the animosity between the family and him.
It’s unlikely that this court case will be settled in any short length of time as both sides try to work out who gets a hold of Ronald Butcher’s fortune of $800,000. Only time, and the truth, will tell as we await a verdict.