A real estate developer who survived the Holocaust passed away at age 97 recently, leaving behind a legacy of mystery but no family members and no will. The man came to the United States after surviving a war that lead to the death or disappearance of any relatives here or in Europe. Officials in the state where he lived say that his $40 million estate is the largest in their history to go unclaimed by a blood relative or beneficiary under a will.
While most Texas readers have not been subject to a conflict of this magnitude, many people with small families or relatives in distant locations could be faced with a similar situation if they do not execute a valid will.
Even for people who do have children and siblings that may be eligible to inherit from them under state probate laws, executing a will is crucial in the event that those relatives do not live longer than you. However remote the possibility, it is always there, making it incredibly important to designate a backup plan.
For many people, this means choosing charitable causes or friends to inherit otherwise unclaimed portions of an estate.
In lieu of a known relative who has a legal claim to the estate, authorities have hired a genealogist to continue the search for a family member. They are also looking for a will or some kind that could indicate the man’s intentions for his estate. In the interim, a public administrator has sold the man’s primary home and auctioned off belongings and will manage taxes and other financial obgliations of the estate while the search continues.
Source:New York Times, “Holocause survivor left $40 million, but no heirs,” Julie Satow, April 27, 2013.