One reason estate planning attorneys counsel people to create an estate plan is because if you do not, your inheritance choices are effectively made by the state. In some cases, such as the estate of Roman Blum, a New York real estate developer who died last year at the age of 92, not having an estate plan could lead to your state inheriting all of your property.
Mr. Blum died a widower last year leaving behind no children or, apparently, any living relatives. Blum had been a Holocaust survivor, and he and his wife immigrated to New York in the 1950s.
After Blum’s death in 2011, it took his rabbi to claim his body from the local morgue after it had been there for several days. When a New York court appointed a public administrator to oversee the estate, the administrator discovered that not only was Mr. Blum worth about $40 million, but there are apparently was no one to inherit this property.
Mr. Blum had not created a will or other type of estate planning device, and because the administrator was unable to find a living relative, it now appears that the state of New York will inherit all of his property because of the law of escheat.
All states have escheat laws that direct that the final inheritor of any estate is the state itself. If you die without an estate plan and have no living relatives, your state, like the state of New York in Mr. Blum’s case, inherits everything.