By Eric Scaringe
Recently, the office of the Illinois state treasurer was tasked with handling one of the most bizarre and complicated unclaimed estate cases ever recorded in U.S. history.
Chicago resident Joseph Stancak passed away in 2016, secretly leaving behind $11 million in his estate. Fast forward to October 2022, 119 of Stancak’s relatives have now received a portion of his wealth more than five years later.
With no siblings, children of his own, or nephews and nieces, his lineage had to be traced by going all the way back to his parents before coming back to these relatives who are located in multiple states and even countries. That is a life-changing amount of money, and there is not much information on how he accumulated the wealth, but there is an important lesson to be learned here.
The best time to begin estate planning is as soon as possible. It basically starts with going through “what if” scenarios, some financial housekeeping and then bringing in professionals to finalize the process.
The biggest error you can make is thinking that estate planning is only for those worth tens of millions of dollars and doesn’t apply to your family. Anyone with assets owned in their own names may be subjecting their heirs to a long and expensive probate court process to simply inherit their assets.