Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Chicago man’s $11 million estate to be divided among 119 distant cousins who never knew him

Estate planningJoseph Stancak was 87 when he passed away in 2016, leaving behind no obvious heirs to his $11 million estate. This is though to be one of the largest unclaimed estates in the United States. Stancak made his fortune in large part through mutual-fund investing.

A team of lawyers is preparing to distribute his estate among 119 distant cousins who never knew Stancak. Many were surprised to be contacted by the estate lawyers who informed them that they will receive around $60,000 after taxes. All six of his siblings all predeceased him, meaning attorneys had to go through five-generations of his family tree to find heirs in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada. There are additional relatives in the Chicago area, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York.

This is a further reminder that estate planning is not only for the elite. Any asset, from a bike to a private airplane, will benefit by being addressed in a will. 

For more information see Rachel Koning Beals “Chicago man’s $11 million estate to be divided among 119 distant cousins who never knew him”, Yahoo! Finance MarketWatch, October 24, 2022.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention. 


Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession | Permalink


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