Last year, Roman Blum passed away in the state of New York at 97 years of age. For days no one came forward to claim the body until Blum’s lawyer was able to be tracked down by a Rabbi at the hospital.
Blum’s death has become a significant incident for the state of New York. He had an estate valued at approximately $40 million which would normally be significant to the state because of estate tax gains, but in this situation they may receive far more. To this date there appear to be no living relatives and no estate plan created. If a relative were to be found, then what remains of the estate after probate fees and taxes would pass to that relation. Or, if a will or living trust is located, the assets could be distributed according to Blum’s wishes.
Because neither heirs nor an estate plan have been found, the state of New York may receive the rights to the estate due to a law called escheat. Escheat is defined as “The transfer of title of property or an estate to the state when an individual dies without a will and legal heirs. Escheat ensures that property always has a recognized owner, which would be the state or government if no other claimants to ownership exist.” If, after three years, no heirs or estate planning documents are found, the funds will go to the state of New York.
The public administrator handling the case has been selling Blum’s property and material possessions. He is also handling various matters on the estate and doing an in-depth search to try and find any potential relatives.
Blum was a holocaust survivor and many of his friends come from groups made up of survivors and their families. Many of his friends were surprised at his lack of planning, some believing that a will may yet be found. However, his accountant stated that a couple weeks prior to his death, Blum had spoken to him about the need to set up a will and expressed that they would address it when the accountant returned from an upcoming vacation. Unfortunately, by then it was too late.
Some of the friends also expressed that Blum had stated a desire to leave much of his funds to charities. It was mentioned that he had a desire to assist children of holocaust survivors and perhaps to use funds toward education regarding the holocaust. Unfortunately, without a legal document to verify these claims, there is no evidence that would assist the probate court with making this decision.
Very few individuals would want their estate, whether large or small, to go to the government. Most clients that do not have relatives choose to leave their assets to friends and/or charity instead of allowing it to go to the state. This is a reason that people choose to create a will and/or a living trust.
If you would like more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today at 888.222.1328.
About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.