A 97-year-old man died in 2012, but there is no will or estate planning documentation on record to determine the dispensation of his estate. Instances of individuals dying in Florida or elsewhere without a will on file are not uncommon; however, the case of this New York man is exceedingly unique. That is because his estate is worth approximately $40 million, and no living heirs are known to exist.
A public administrator, who was appointed by the court, has been searching for someone who could satisfactorily serve as the legal heir of this man’s estate. The search has even gone international due to the deceased man’s Polish heritage. Nevertheless, searches have turned up nothing.
Only two hopeful heirs have filed claims against the estate thus far. One of these claims was submitted in the fall of 2013, and it is currently being considered. Another claim was filed more recently. This claim is more dubious, however. It was submitted with a letter from 1987 in which that the man allegedly gave his entire fortune to a love interest in Poland — a woman the claimant says he had fallen in love with after World War II and stayed in contact with. This letter, however, will be subjected to handwriting analysis and other scrutiny.
The two claims on the estate that have been filed will have to show proof of their eligibility; and according to the public administrator, that may be difficult for them to achieve. If a suitable heir to this man’s giant estate is not discovered, then New York City’s Department of Finance will be given charge of the assets, just as it currently houses another $12 billion in unclaimed funds.
Florida residents who have valid claims to an estate that did not have a will on file could be eligible beneficiaries if they submit appropriate and legal proof. In other cases, an existing will may be challenged by a later or previous will. Such disputes may need to be resolved through the court system, or they may be resolved by way of an out of court settlement. In this case of the unclaimed $40 million estate, though, it remains unknown if a suitable beneficiary will ever be found.
Source: Tablet, “Holocaust Survivor’s $40 Million Estate Lingers” Isabel Fattal, Jun. 06, 2014