By Jason Stern
As a New York estate lawyer, practicing in Forest Hills, New York, I can tell you sooner or later a relative of every single person in the entire world passes through Queens at some point. With a borough this populated in a City this expansive it is no wonder that there are more people who pass away in Queens than in any other part of the country. By the numbers alone, despite my best efforts as a NY estate lawyer, many of these people will pass without a will.
However, what happens when someone passes away without a will or known relatives and leaves behind 40 Million Dollars?
What happens is, the estate becomes a NY kinship case. A NY kinship case occurs when a decedent passes without a will, close surviving relatives and when the nearest relative is a distant cousin. In such instances in NY, the body of law governing NY kinship cases dictates how the proceeds of such an estate are to be distributed.
The kinship law in NY is a highly technical, complex array of statutes, case law and genealogical research that is required to prove up kinship. This area of law is occupied by highly specialized NY kinship lawyers who are well versed and experienced in these types of matters. Quite simply, if you do not have the right NY kinship lawyer, you will be waiting a very long time to collect the proceeds from this type of estate.
Who was Roman Blum?
We think Roman Blum was born near Warsaw Poland on September 15, 1914. I say think because as history would have it, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany on September 1, 1939 in what has since become known as the Blitzkrieg. And so began the tyrannous occupation and persecution of Poland that spanned nearly seven long years costing tens of millions of lives and wreaking a trail of havoc and destruction the likes of which the world has not forgotten. Included in those losses were the birth, marriage and death records of more than 20 million murdered and displaced victims, many of them Jews. After losing his wife and son in The Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Roman survived the harsh conditions of the camp and was liberated in May of 1945.
After losing his wife and son in the holocaust, Roman Blum met a woman Eva in Frankfurt whom he married and came to America with. In 1949, Roman and Eva Blum settled down in Forest Hills, New York. A successful builder, Roman Blum figured out before the Verrazano Narrows Bridge was built, that it would cause a huge windfall in real estate prices in Staten Island. As a natural entrepreneur, Roman relocated to Staten Island New York with his wife where he amassed a substantial fortune in real estate.
Roman and his wife Eva never had children. In 1992, Roman lost his second wife. With the passing of his second wife, Roman was left with no known surviving heirs. In January of 2012, at the age of 97 years old, Roman Blum died in the Staten Island University Hospital. Roman Blum passed without a will, no known surviving relatives and $40 Million Dollars in cash and assets. His body laid in the morgue for 4 days until his lawyer claimed the body.
What happens to the $40 Million Dollars?
Had Roman Blum executed a simple will for $300, his entire $40,000,000.00 estate would have been distributed to the designated beneficiaries and or charities of his choosing. However since he died intestate, without a will, the amount will either go to surviving heirs if any exist or to the State of New York.
Initially the attorney for the public administrator’s office for the borough of Staten Island does a detailed inventory of any and all assets of the estate. Once inventoried, which could take a substantial amount of time in a large estate such as this one, the public administrator’s office will search for any and all surviving relatives. At this point, as a NY kinship lawyer, this is when the surviving heirs would retain our firm to prove their relationship to the decedent. As their NY kinship lawyer, our office would conduct an exhaustive search of official records, witness statements from friends and family, and in this case perhaps go to Europe to find additional witnesses and documentation.
In this particular NY kinship estate, I can tell you it will be a very complex and lengthy process. Already a year has passed and neither the attorney for the public administrator nor any other NY kinship lawyer has come forward with any evidence of surviving heirs. These types of NY kinship cases are the hardest to prove as most of the vital records required to either locate or prove kinship were lost and destroyed in the War. Without such vital records and the existence of any immediate family it is unlikely that any heirs will be located. Additionally, since Roman Blum was 97 years of age, it is unlikely that any of his heirs would still be alive to claim title to his estate.
That’s not to say that this estate cannot be claimed. Having handled numerous complicated NY estates similar to this one, our firm has used various international organizations around the world to obtain these elusive vital statistics and records. Many of these organizations have extensive resources and have been compiling vital statistics through the years in an effort to recreate much of the information that was lost.
However, should no surviving heirs come forward to claim this estate, it becomes increasingly likely with each passing day that the proceeds of Roman Blum’s $40,000,000.00 estate will eventually revert to the State.
If you or a family member would like to speak with a NY estate lawyer at the Law Offices of Jason W. Stern & Associates about a kinship or any other estate matter, feel free to call us at (718) 261-2444 for a free consultation.