By Jason Stern
KINSHIP LAW: Estate of Walter Samaszko, Jr.
Who was Walter Samaszko, Jr. and why should we care? Walter Samaszko, Jr. was a 70 year old reclusive Carson City, Nevada man who died in May of 2012. His neighbors described him as a mysterious, solitary figure that they knew little about. Walter Samaszko, Jr. died last May without a will to probate, wife, children or any surviving family. However, Walter Samaszko, Jr. did die with more than $3.5 million dollars worth of gold coins wrapped in boxes of ammunition in his garage.
Walter’s mother purchased most of the nearly 9,000 gold coins when gold was worth a mere $35.00/ounce. Today, gold prices fluctuate at nearly $1,800.00/ounce. According to theHuffington Post, Walter’s stash of gold coins netted more than $3.5 million dollars at a recent estate auction.
What happens to the proceeds of an estate if there are no heirs? Why you need an experienced NY estate lawyer to handle your Kinship Case
In New York, just as in Nevada, when someone dies with no will to admit to probate and leaves no close surviving heirs it is a kinship case and requires the assistance of a highly experienced NY kinship lawyer. As an estate lawyer practicing in NY, I am all too familiar with these types of kinship cases. If you think this case sounds crazy it is, but if you think it is uncommon it is not.
In instances such as these, the proceeds of the estate will pass through the kinship law to the decedent’s surviving cousins. Here the proceeds of the estate auction, more than $3.5 million dollars passed to Walter Samaszko, Jr.’s sole surviving first cousin, Arlene Magdenz living in California, whom he never met. Arlene Magdenz, a substitute teacher in Sacramento, will inherit the entire $3.5 million less the $800,000.00 estate tax owed to the State of Nevada, netting approximately, $2.7 million dollars. Not bad for someone she never met.
As a NY kinship lawyer, practicing in Forest Hills, Queens, surviving cousins in such cases often retain my firm. Similarly, the decedent is often a reclusive person with little or no contact with the outside world or personal relationships. It is not uncommon in kinship cases for the decedent to bean extreme hoarder. I was even retained in a New York kinship case where the hoarder died of asphyxiation under the strain of her own hoarding in her apartment.
Kinship cases such as these are initiated when the public administrator determines that someone died without a will to probate and their closest surviving heirs are first cousins. The public administrator will step in, inventory any and all assets, and make contact with the surviving heirs. If no heirs are found, the estate proceeds are deposited with the State as abandoned property.
If surviving cousins are found, a NY kinship lawyer will be retained. Once we prove our clients kinship to the decedent as cousins, the public administrator will pay any and all estate tax liability out of the estate in addition to their costs and expenses incurred. Finally, a check for the proceeds of the estate is cut to our firm as the NY kinship lawyer for each cousin and distributed accordingly.
Here, Walter Samaszko, Jr.’s only surviving relative was a cousin in California he never met. Had Walter Samaszko, Jr. had a valid will to probate he would have passed the contents of his entire fortune to anyone of his choosing. Perhaps he never thought about it or perhaps he never cared. In any event, as kinship attorneys our function is vital. We distribute the proceeds of these complex estates to the next of kin, cousins, so that the money is not deposited with the State as lost property.
If you or someone you love think you may be the distributee of a NY kinship estate, please feel free to speak with a NY kinship lawyer at (718) 261-2444 for a free consultation. The Law Offices of Jason W. Stern & Associates are the most experienced kinship lawyers in New York and are here to help you navigate this often complicated area of law with ease.
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