The estate planning community has been abuzz about a very interesting story that is unfolding in New York.
Roman Blum, a wealthy former real estate developer, passed away at the beginning of last year. After surviving the atrocity of the Holocaust, Blum had gone on to live a robust and fulfilling life. Mr. Blum died a very wealthy man. Sadly, he apparently died intestate – meaning he didn’t leave behind a last will or a trust with instructions about distributing his assets.
In most intestacy cases, relatives will come forward to make claims on the decedent’s assets. In fact, the fiduciary appointed by the probate court will try to find relatives if nobody steps forward. While each state has its own intestate succession rules, assets generally go to the decedent’s closest relatives or friends.
In Roman Blum’s case, no family members have come forward, and none have been identified. In fact, a genealogist has been engaged by the estate administrator to find the lawful heirs.
This is the largest intestacy case in the history of New York state. Roman Blum may have died without a will, but he didn’t die without any money. If no relatives are found within three years, under escheat rules the state of New York will absorb the assets that comprise Blum’s estate. The amount of the estate has been estimated at approximately $40 million.
Blum’s case underscore the true importance of estate planning.You may not have a $40 million estate, but financial assets only make up a portion of a person’s true legacy. Imagine leaving your life’s work and earnings in the hands of a court system that knows nothing about your last wishes for your family and loved ones. Without preparation of a will or trust, such a future can easily become a reality. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you get your planning underway.