The state of New York is handling the largest case of intestacy that has ever presented itself in the state’s history.
Last January a wealthy Holocaust survivor named Roman Blum passed away. There is a detailed article about the matter in the New York Times, and it tells the story of an interesting man who has created an interesting situation due to a lack of planning.
The fortune that Blum left behind is reportedly just short of $40 million.
He did not leave behind a last will or a trust directing asset transfers after his passing. When this happens the resultant situation is that of intestacy.
If you can come forward with proof that you are related to a decedent who died intestate, and you were first in line according to intestacy laws of succession, you would receive the inheritance. However, in the case of Mr. Blum there are no known relatives.
Under legal escheat rules the state of New York will take possession of the assets left behind by Roman Blum if no relative is identified within three years of his passing.
Without question these resources could be put to good use by charities, and when you read you article in the Times you see that he did have personal relationships.
This case demonstrates why it is so important to make sure that your wishes are known. Few of us have $40 million to leave behind, but regardless of what you have you probably would prefer to see that it goes to someone of your choosing.