What Happens When You Leave a Fortune...to No One?

Roman Blum was always somewhat of a mysterious man. No one was sure where exactly in Poland the Holocaust survivor and New York real estate developer was from, nor what his true birth date was. Some friends claim that he had a wife and child who died in the Holocaust, but there is no record of them.

When Blum died in 2012 at age 97, the mystery lived on. Although his estate was valued at nearly $40 million, Blum died without a will. That makes his the largest unclaimed estate in New York history.

Blum, whose ex-wife died in 1992 and who had no children, left behind no heirs. The state public administrator assigned to the case has already sold more than $5 million worth of Blum's personal property and auctioned off personal items. He is also using Blum's estate to fund a genealogist to search for relatives. So far, they have yet to find an heir.

However, the state has received hundreds of emails from all over the world—people claiming to be relatives of Blum. In addition, two people have come forward alleging they have valid wills. One is an upstate New York attorney who claims his great-grandfather had a connection to Blum. The other is a Polish woman, who is 90-something years old and says she is the beneficiary of a childhood acquaintance of Blum's.

If the court finds neither of these claims valid and never finds an heir, everything from Blum's estate will pass to the state.

Learn From Roman Blum's Mistake
No matter the size of your estate, you should make sure you have a plan in place so that your assets, real estate, heirlooms and other property go to the people and organizations you care about?not the government. If you aren't sure how to get started, download our FREE Personal Estate Planning Kit to help walk you step-by-step through the process. You can also contact Jackie Peterson at 507-933-7543 or jpeters9@gustavus.edu to learn more, at no obligation.