The New York Times is running an interesting story about a wealthy Holocaust survivor who died intestate.
Though there are some conflicting reports about his history, Roman Blum was said to be 97 years of age when he passed away in January of 2012. His assets are estimated to be valued in the vicinity of $40 million.
As it turns out Blum, a former real estate developer, didn’t leave behind any estate planning documents so he passed away intestate. Under the laws of the state your closest relatives naturally inherit your resources if you die intestate. Precise intestacy rules of succession vary state-by-state.
If you died intestate in New York and you were not married and you did have children the children would inherit the entirety of your estate. If you had a spouse with no children your spouse would inherit everything. If you had a spouse and children your spouse inherits the first $50,000 and half of the remainder. The children split the other half.
Roman Blum did not have any children, he was not married at the time of his death, and he had no other relatives that can be found. Under escheat rules the state of New York will absorb the assets that comprise Blum’s estate if no relative can be found within three years of his passing.
Estate planning attorneys often caution people about the negative consequences that can come about when no advance plans have been made. This case underscores just how profound the results can be when someone dies intestate.