Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Of the 2.5 million people who died intestate in 2012 one of them was real estate developer Roman Blum, whose estate "was worth almost $40 million when he passed away in January 2012 at the age of 97." The state conducted a worldwide search for his heirs but the search turned up to no living relatives. If no relatives come forward in the next three years, all the money in his estate will escheat to the State of New York. There are several estate planning lessons that emerge from Blum's estate:
- A person might want to provide for their loved ones not just their relatives. There must have been people who Blum cared about and a will would have given him the opportunity to bequeath property to them. Unfortunately, without a will or trust there is no way to legally enforce Blum's wishes. If a person dies without a will, the state follows its intestacy statute to determine who should receive Blum's estate.
- A person might want to review his or her beneficiary forms to ensure his or her primary and secondary designations are correct and up to date.
- Furthermore, assuming Blum did not want to benefit anyone, he still might have wanted to benefit a charity. If Blum had written a will, he could have donated his estate to a worthy cause.
- Estate planning documents are not only for the benefit of our family members and loved ones after our deaths, they can also be necessary to safeguard our wishes during medical hardships in our life. Advance directives, which allow a person to express their wishes about end-of-life care, and health care proxies, which allow a person to designate a person to make medical decisions on a person's behalf if the person cannot, are both necessary estate planning documents.
- Additionally, a person who creates estate planning documents might want to make their documents accessible so that family members or the executor of the estate knows where to find them.
- Finally, it is important to not procrastinate about making these important documents.
See Deborah L. Jacobs, N.Y. State Could Get $40 Million From Man Who Died Without A Will, Forbes, Apr. 28, 2013.