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Multi-millionaire dies without a will, search for heirs continues

Younger folks in Pennsylvania might assume that they do not need a will if they do not have children or a significant amount of assets. However, a will is one of the most important estate planning tools that anyone over the age of 18 should have to protect their interests. While younger folks may not understand the importance of having a will, older folks with a significant amount of assets usually understand that they will need to create wills and use other estate planning tools, such as a trust, to protect their wealth.

Although older, wealthy individuals may make sure that they at least create a will to address how they would like their personal property and other assets to be distributed after death, the death of a multi-millionaire in New York left many stunned when they realized the man had died without a will. The 97-year-old man, who was a successful real estate developer and Holocaust survivor, died last year. As of last week, the public administrator who is working on settling the man's estate still has not been able to identify any potential heirs.

The state comptroller's office reported that the man's estate is the largest unclaimed estate in the history of the state. The man's estate has been estimated to be worth about $40 million. Since the man died without a will, an executor was never named by the man to settle his estate after death. A public administrator has since been assigned to settle the estate, but doing so has proven to be a challenge.

Although the public administrator has been able to sell the man's home and other property, the administrator has not been able to identify or locate any living relatives to inherit the man's money. In an effort to make sure any living relatives do receive their share of the man's estate, the public administrator has hired a genealogist to help find any of the Holocaust survivor's living relatives. The administrator is also trying to figure out whether the man had created a will at any point in his life. For now, the man's millions remain unclaimed.

Source: The New York Times, "Holocaust survivor left $40 million, but no heirs," Julie Satow, April 27, 2013

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