Statistics indicate that the majority of American adults do not have a comprehensive estate plan in place. This is rather irresponsible because death is one of the certainties of life, and estate planning involves serious financial matters and the ongoing well-being of those that you love.
When someone passes away without a last will or any other type of estate planning document directing asset transfers the state will utilize intestacy succession laws to identify the rightful heir or heirs.
The intestacy rules can vary slightly state-by-state. In Iowa your spouse would inherit everything even if you and that spouse had children together and neither of you had any other children. If you didn’t have a spouse your children would inherit everything.
There are cases when a person dies intestate without any family at all. Apparently just such a case is unfolding in the state of New York.
Roman Blum was a real estate developer who was able to put together a financial portfolio equaling around $40 million in value. He lived a long and robust life and died last year at the age of 97.
Blum had many things, but one thing that he didn’t have was a last will. He died intestate, leaving behind no instructions with regard to how his financial assets should be distributed. To date no one has materialized claiming to be related to Blum, and the state has not been able to find any relatives.
Under escheat rules the state of New York will be able to absorb the assets that comprise Blum’s estate if no relative is found within three years of his passing.
This is a record-setting intestacy case, but even ordinary people should take steps to make sure that their assets are distributed in accordance with their own true wishes.
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Ryan M. DenmanandDennis D. Duffy
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