Intestacy – Who Were the 119 Heirs?

Intestacy – A Chicago man’s $11 million estate is being divided between 119 relatives after a company unraveled his accounts and family tree.

Block Club Chicago’s recent article entitled “A Chicago Man Quietly Left Behind $11 Million — The Largest Unclaimed Estate In American History” reports that Joseph Stancak lived a quiet life in Gage Park, Illinois, outside of Chicago. He was found dead in his modest bungalow in 2016, according to the state treasurer’s office. Little is known about him — except that he left behind a fortune, said Rudy Quinn, president of Linking Assets Inc., a company that locates unclaimed money.

Stancak never married, had no children or immediate family and died at 87 years old with no will. He was a lifelong Chicagoan who owned a boat named “Easy” and invested in mutual funds, said treasurer’s office spokesperson Greg Rivara.

His neighbors told CBS News he lived frugally.

“No one knows what this guy did and what led him to diversify his wealth in the way that he did. … And we didn’t know his property would balloon to $11 million,” Quinn said. “We had to get creative.”

Stancak’s six siblings are dead, and none of them had children.

Investigators toiled for several years pulling records to build a family tree of possible heirs. The tree grew roots “five generations deep,” leading back to “living cousins once or twice removed in many countries,” said attorney Kenneth Piercey, who represents Stancak’s estate.

The 119 heirs to Stancak’s millions are in Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and some in the Chicago area. It’s the largest return of unclaimed money in United States history.

“In my office I have a scroll 15 feet long that can go across the entire room,” Piercey said. “I’ve never seen a case this complicated before.”

“And we don’t even have a picture of the guy,” Rivara said.

It’ll likely take up to four years to distribute the money. Piercey said that many of the heirs live overseas.

After taxes, the average heir will get a check in the $60,000 range.

Remarkably, none of them had heard of Stancak before, Piercey said.

“There’s no shortage of people who had money tucked away,” Piercey said. “And nobody ever knew.”

Reference: Block Club Chicago (Oct. 24, 2022) “A Chicago Man Quietly Left Behind $11 Million — The Largest Unclaimed Estate In American History”


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Is Flaxseed Good for Seniors?

Flaxseed – Some factors are out of our control, like genetics. However, we can exert control over what we eat. A nutritious diet can support healthy aging in more ways than one, according to the National Institute on Aging, reports Livestrong’s recent article entitled “Want to Age Well? Add a Spoon of This to Your Daily Diet”

“While we have yet to find the fountain of youth, there is research to suggest that the foods we put in our body may affect how quickly our organs and bodies and age,” says Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, RD, the senior clinical dietitian at UCLA Medical Center.

Eating more nutrients for longevity can be as simple as adding a single spoonful of flaxseed to your daily diet. It’s a rich source of healthy fats and other beneficial nutrients. It’s recommended that older adults eat four to five servings of nuts and seeds per week, according to the USDA 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The typical serving size of flaxseeds is one to two tablespoons. They should be eaten ground instead of whole.

Ground flaxseeds are easier on your digestive system and may provide more nutrients than whole flaxseeds, which can pass through your system undigested, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Here are three benefits of flaxseeds for healthy aging.

  1. Flaxseed Has Nutrients Linked to Disease Prevention. The typical Western diet is high in fat, sodium, sugar and calories. This increases the risk of obesity and chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, according to November 2020 research in Missouri Medicine. This type of diet is associated with highly processed and fast foods that can cause inflammation and leave a lot of room for nutritional gaps. However, eating an antioxidant-rich diet neutralizes free radicals and prevents them from damaging cells and increasing the risk of adverse health conditions.
  2. They’re High in Omega-3s, Which Support Heart and Brain Health. Flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for healthy aging. There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseeds contain ALA, which can be converted into EPA and DHA.

“Omega-3s are beneficial for heart health and are anti-inflammatory, which is essential for healthy aging,” Hunnes says. Those who eat a diet rich in omega-3 have a lower risk of heart disease, heart problems and heart-disease-related deaths, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The lignans in flaxseeds have also been tied to lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.

  1. They Have Protein, Which Supports Muscle Health. A big threat to older adults is the loss of muscle mass, strength and function. Sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss, occurs when the muscles start to atrophy or waste away, leading to poor balance and weakness. However, a combination of exercise and a muscle-supporting diet may help. Protein is a crucial nutrient for fighting the natural loss of muscle that occurs over time. Seniors may need more protein in their diets to preserve and increase muscle mass. Flaxseeds consist of up to 30 percent protein, and two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds has 2.6 grams of protein, or about 6 percent of your Daily Value (DV), according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Reference: Livestrong (Sep. 26, 2022) “Want to Age Well? Add a Spoon of This to Your Daily Diet”


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Why Is Movie Star Chris Hemsworth More Likely to Develop Alzheimer’s Disease?

While working on his new docuseries, National Geographic’s Limitless with Chris Hemsworth, the 39-year-old had genetic testing and discovered that he has a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

People’s recent article, entitled “Chris Hemsworth Learned He Has a Greater Chance of Getting Alzheimer’s Disease: ‘It Was Pretty Shocking’,” says the series features Hemsworth pushing his body’s limits to beat stress, maximize performance and fight back aging. In the fifth episode, “Memory,” a physician informs that star that he has two copies of the gene APOE4. The gene is linked to an increased risk of the disease, the actor revealed in an interview with Vanity Fair.

“They took all my bloodwork and did a bunch of tests, and the plan was to on-camera tell me all the results and then talk about how you can improve this and that,” Hemsworth told the outlet.

“And Peter Attia, who is the longevity doctor in that episode, and overseeing a lot of the show, called [show creator] Darren [Aronofsky] and said, ‘I don’t want to tell him this on camera. We need to have an off-side conversation and see if he even wants this to be in the show.’ It was pretty shocking because he called me up and he told me.”

The tests showed that the star of Thor and Extraction is eight to 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s in the future.

“The show, which initially was an exploration of longevity and, of course, should be fun, became even more relevant and important for me, even more poignant than I ever thought it would be,” Hemsworth told Vanity Fair. “It was a really good catalyst to dive into everything I needed to be doing in either the prevention front or the management front or however you want to classify it. It’s not a pre-deterministic gene, but it is a strong indication.”

Hemsworth’s grandfather also has Alzheimer’s, so learning about his own genes wasn’t a total surprise.

“My concern was I just didn’t want to manipulate it and overdramatize it and make it into some sort of hokey grab at empathy, or whatever, for entertainment,” said Chris Hemsworth, who shares twin sons Sasha and Tristan, 8, and daughter India, 10, with wife Elsa Pataky. “It’s not like I’ve been handed my resignation.”

Hemsworth took it as an opportunity to make positive changes. His recent health news only reinforced the importance of keeping it up.

“If you look at Alzheimer’s prevention, the benefit of preventative steps is that it affects the rest of your life. When you have predisposition to cardiovascular heart disease, cancer, anything—it’s all about sleep management, stress management, nutrition, movement, fitness. It’s all kind of the same tools that need to be applied in a consistent way.”

Reference: People (Nov. 17, 2022) “Chris Hemsworth Learned He Has a Greater Chance of Getting Alzheimer’s Disease: ‘It Was Pretty Shocking’”


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What’s an Annuity ?

An annuity is a contract between an investor and a life insurance company. The purchaser of an annuity pays a lump-sum or several installments to the insurer, which then provides a guaranteed income for a certain period—or until their death.

Forbes’ recent article entitled “What Is A Joint And Survivor Annuity?” says that understanding an “annuitant” is key to understanding how a joint and survivor annuity works. An annuitant may be either the buyer or owner of an annuity or someone who’s been selected to get the payouts. A joint and survivor contract typically benefits joint annuitants: a primary annuitant and a secondary annuitant. Under this policy, both get income payments during the lifetimes of both the owner and their survivor.

With joint life contract, you can expect payments throughout the lifetime of the primary annuitant. If that person passes away, the survivor—the other annuitant—receives payouts that are the same as or less than what the original annuitant received. However, if the secondary annuitant dies ahead of the primary annuitant, survivor benefits aren’t paid when the primary annuity dies. The contract buyer can designate themself and another person, like their spouse, as joint annuitants.

A joint and survivor annuity differs from a single life annuity in a few ways:

  • A single-life benefits only the owner, so income payouts cease when that person dies; and
  • A single-life usually pays out less than a joint and survivor annuity, since a single-life contract covers just one life, while a joint and survivor covers two.

Under some joint and survivor annuities, the amount of the payout is decreased after the death of the primary annuitant. The terms of any decrease are set out in the contract.

The payout to a surviving secondary annuitant, generally a spouse or domestic partner, ranges from 50% to 100% of the amount paid during the primary annuitant’s life, if the contract was bought through certain tax-qualified retirement plans.

Ask these three questions before setting up a joint and survivor annuity:

  • How much in payout is needed for both annuitants to support themselves?
  • Do you have other assets (like a life insurance policy) to help the surviving joint annuitant after one of the annuitants dies?
  • How much would the payouts be lessened after the death of a joint annuitant?

Remember that you usually can’t change the survivor named in a joint and survivor annuity.

Reference: Forbes (Dec. 19, 2022) “What Is A Joint And Survivor Annuity?”


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What Did Kirstie Alley Do for Estate Planning?

Radar’s recent article, entitled “Kirstie Alley Left Behind $40 Million Fortune & Massive Real Estate Portfolio Following Her Death At 71,” reports that the actress had several starring roles that afforded her a luxurious lifestyle, including on Cheers and the Look Who’s Talking franchise.

She also became a regular fixture on reality TV, making appearances on Kirstie Alley’s Big Life, Celebrity Big Brother, Dancing With the Stars and The Masked Singer.

In addition to her significant net worth, she had a mansion in Wichita, Kansas.

In addition, Alley posted about building her dream farmhouse on two acres of land in Clearwater, Florida, back in 2020.

“The bulk of her estate will go to her kids, then the rest to charities,” said an insider.

The farmhouse was incomplete at the time of her passing.

“Hi!! been so busy remodeling that I’ve been MIA … 🙂 windows installed this week.. exciting as there is such a shortage,” she tweeted on October 27, just weeks before her death.

Alley previously gave her 1.5 million followers a sneak peek at the property being built from the ground up in August 2021.

The Drop Dead Gorgeous star reportedly also still maintained another six-bedroom, 11-bathroom waterfront Clearwater property she purchased in 2008 for $1.8 million. Alley sold her longtime home in California for $7.8 million in 2021.

After the news of her death after a brief battle with colon cancer, found out the Church of Scientology held a memorial for their longtime member.

Alley’s children, William and Lillie Parker, announced that she died on December 5: “We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered,” they said in a statement.

“She was surrounded by her closest family and fought with great strength, leaving us with a certainty of her never-ending joy of living and whatever adventures lie ahead,” they continued. “As iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother.”

Reference: Radar  (Dec. 12, 2022) “Kirstie Alley Left Behind $40 Million Fortune & Massive Real Estate Portfolio Following Her Death At 71”


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Are Flavonols Good for My Brain?

Researchers found that total flavonol intake was linked to a lower decline in global cognition, according to Thomas Monroe Holland, MD, MS, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and co-authors.

MedPage Today’s recent article entitled “Flavonols Linked to Slower Cognitive Decline” says that slower declines in episodic, semantic and working memory also were tied to overall flavonol intake. Associations were independent of cardiovascular conditions and lifestyle factors, the researchers reported in the medical journal, Neurology.

The findings suggest specific diet choices may result in a slower rate of cognitive decline. “Something as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more tea is an easy way for people to take an active role in maintaining their brain health,” Holland said in a statement.

Flavonols are a type of flavonoid, a group of phytochemicals found in plant pigments. Earlier research has shown that high flavonol intake was connected to lower risk of Alzheimer’s dementia.

The mechanisms behind these relationships aren’t fully understood, the researchers acknowledged. However, the anti-inflammatory features of flavonols may lessen the amplitude or duration of neuroinflammation, Holland and his team suggested. The antioxidant characteristics of flavanols may also prevent or reduce oxidative stress from reactive oxygen species and free radicals.

In this study, Holland and his team evaluated 961 people with no dementia at baseline who participated in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, an ongoing community-based, prospective cohort. Participants were followed for 6.9 years. The sample was predominantly female (75%), white (98%),and had an average educational level of 15 years and a mean baseline age of about 81. Overall, 22% carried at least one APOE4 allele (a risk factor for susceptibility to coronary artery disease (CAD) and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)), and 42% reported a history of smoking.

The researchers looked at diet using a food frequency questionnaire and measured cognitive performance annually with about 20 standardized tests. They adjusted findings for age, sex, education, APOE4, late-life cognitive activity, physical activity and smoking.

The study examined both total flavonol intake and intake of four constituents — kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin, and isorhamnetin. Kale, beans, tea, spinach, and broccoli were top food contributors for the natural flavonol kaempferol in the study. Tomatoes, kale, apples, and tea were main contributors for quercetin; tea, wine, kale, oranges, and tomatoes for myricetin; and pears, olive oil, wine, and tomato sauce for isorhamnetin, another flavanol.

Holland and colleagues noted that the study has several limitations, such as the fact that the sample population was white, highly educated and from the Midwest. In addition, dietary intake was recorded by self-reported food frequency questionnaires.

Reference: MedPage Today (Nov. 23, 2022) “Flavonols Linked to Slower Cognitive Decline”


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Does Elder Abuse Victim have Obligation of $25 Million Gift?

Regena Cole’s Long Beach Superior Court lawsuit alleged financial elder abuse, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. She seeks at least $500,000 in damages and a court order declaring the agreement to make a $25 million donation to music education at Cal State Long Beach void.

Press-Telegram’s recent article entitled “Woman, 95, disputes $25 million gift agreement to benefit CSULB” reports that Cole says those involved in allegedly deceiving her “used their relationship with her, her weakened physical and mental health and her dependence and trust in others, to intimidate and control Cole so that they could exert control and dominion over her and her property to gain an alleged irrevocable cash contribution of $25 million to CSULB.”

The agreement requires her to make the donation or have the sum considered a debt to her estate after she dies.

“Further, the alleged gift agreement was drafted and put forward solely by defendants for their direct benefit by isolating Cole from her family and friends, including long-time trusted financial advisors and attorneys… ” the suit states.

Over the past decade, Cole has gradually suffered from memory lapses and moments of confusion, especially after late morning, which cause her to be susceptible and vulnerable to manipulation and isolation, the lawsuit says.

The CSULB 49er Foundation is a nonprofit group that manages endowment funds, donation, and estate planning gifts to Cal State Long Beach. In 2020, Michele Cesca, who at the time served as an agent of the foundation and as vice president of university relations and development for CSULB, used her perceived friendship to gain access and control over Cole, the suit states. Over time, Cesca and others allegedly coerced the 95-year-old into signing the gift agreement. Cesca did not show the alleged donation to Cole’s attorneys until months after the signing, the suit details.

Because the signatures of three university representatives appear after the date of Cole’s alleged penning of her name on Aug. 19, 2020 —including that of CSULB President Jane Close Conoley — there is no sign that any of the alleged signings by representatives from CSULB and the 49er Foundation were executed on the same day, the suit states. The attorneys for Cole argue that there also is no indication that the donation was properly witnessed, notarized, and disclosed in full to Cole.

In November 2020, Cesca contacted Cole’s attorneys in an email that “completely misrepresented key facts in this matter,” the suit states. In addition, a confidential attorney-client communication produced by university attorneys purporting to document the donation was in fact only a draft outline of a preliminary discussion between the plaintiff and her lawyer regarding a matching gift agreement and does not state she agreed to an irrevocable cash contribution,” the suit states.

Not until recently were Cole’s attorneys able to “uncover the paper trail of fraud committed by Defendants and their actions to improperly cause the acts of elder abuse, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment against Cole through deception, manipulation, undue coercion, fraud and concealment,” the suit says.

Reference: Press-Telegram (Nov. 24, 2022) “Woman, 95, disputes $25 million gift agreement to benefit CSULB”


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Kari Lake Is in Hot Water with Singer Tom Petty ’s Estate

Politicians or anyone else can’t simply use a copyrighted piece of music in an ad or at a large-scale public gathering without paying the composer for the rights or at the very least asking their permission, explains MSN’s recent article entitled “Tom Petty’s Estate Won’t Back Down From Going After People Who Use His Music.”

After the 2022 midterms, the estate of late Tom Petty tweeted a statement that condemned the use of Petty’s 1989 hit “I Won’t Back Down” in a failed gubernatorial campaign.

This wasn’t the first time Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down” was at the center of a copyright disagreement. Before he died, it was pointed out that the chorus to pop singer Sam Smith’s hit “Stay With Me” shared a striking similarity to the melody of Petty’s song. In that case, Smith agreed to list both Petty and Jeff Lynne, who together wrote “I Won’t Back Down” as “Stay with Me” co-writers, according to Rolling Stone.

In the case of the brewing Tom Petty estate feud with failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down” provided the soundtrack to a television ad Lake released after her loss to Democrat Katie Hobbes.

According to the Petty estate tweet, Lake’s campaign did not ask permission or seek a license to legally do so. As a result, they were looking at their legal options to stop its use by the campaign and to prevent it from happening again, based on Billboard reporting.

“The Tom Petty estate and our partners were shocked to find out that Tom’s song ‘I Won’t Back Down’ was stolen and used without permission or a license to promote Kari Lake’s failed campaign,” the tweet read. “This is illegal … We are exploring all of our legal options to stop this unauthorized use,” and to prohibit future misappropriations of Petty’s anthem,” the Petty estate tweet continued.

In 2020, the Petty estate also took issue with former President Donald Trump when he used the same song at one of his campaign rallies.

The Petty estate joins a long list of other well-known musicians who had a problem when President Trump used their song without first paying or asking.

Reference: MSN (Nov. 21, 2022) “Tom Petty’s Estate Won’t Back Down From Going After People Who Use His Music”


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Anne Heche ’s Estate Facing Another Problem

Actress Anne Heche was transported to the hospital after her car crashed into the home of Lynne Mishele on August 5. She died a week later at the age of 53. Her manner of death was listed as an accident in a report released by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner.

Fox 10 Phoenix’s recent article entitled “Anne Heche estate sued for $2M by woman whose home was destroyed by fiery car crash” reports that Mishele’s lawyer, Shawn Holley, submitted documents to the Los Angeles County court seeking a creditor’s claim, and filed the claim requesting “according to proof but at least $2 million.”

Creditor claims are common and part of the process when seeking monetary damages from an estate, especially when “liability or amount of debt is disputed.”

Mishele was renting the home destroyed in Heche’s crash. While Mishele escaped unharmed, she was immediately displaced and her pets narrowly avoided death.

“Ms. Mishele is devastated by what happened to her on Friday — not only because she and her pets almost lost their lives but because all of her property, including items of profound sentimental value, were destroyed,” Shawn Holley, the tenant’s attorney, told Fox News Digital at the time. “She asks for privacy at this incredibly difficult time.”

Heche’s son, Homer Laffoon, was appointed special administrator of her estate and passed another legal hurdle last month after Anne’s ex, James Tupper, was denied his petition to be named guardian ad litem over their son, Atlas, 13.

“We are pleased—but not surprised—with the court’s ruling this morning denying James’ petition to appoint himself guardian ad litem for Atlas,” Laffoon’s lawyer, Bryan Phipps, said in a statement released to Fox News after following the ruling.

“We look forward to the court resolving Homer’s petition at the next hearing and, in the meantime, Homer will continue to diligently administer the Estate pursuant to his authority as Special Administrator.”

Tupper continues to contest the estate planning and said he received an emailed will from Anne Heche in 2011, but prior legal documents stated, “the email does not qualify as either a holographic will or formal witnessed will.”

Reference: Fox 10 Phoenix (Nov. 16, 2022) “Anne Heche estate sued for $2M by woman whose home was destroyed by fiery car crash”


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Does New Feature on Alexa Together Help Seniors?

Alexa Together is a subscription service, designed to help seniors feel more comfortable and confident to live independently, says The Business Standard’s recent article entitled “Amazon adds custom alerts to Alexa Together caregiver service.”

This service has many features including 24/7 hands-free access to professional Urgent Response agents who can get a senior the assistance they need if they say, “Alexa, call for help.”

With custom alert, the user will be notified if the care receiver, for example, opened a sensor-equipped medicine cabinet or turned on the bedroom light at the right time in the morning.

Users can enable custom alerts through the “More” section in the Alexa Appellant. It requires at least one Echo device for the person receiving support.

Alexa Together provides a variety of remote assistance, including 24/7 urgent-care responses, remote assistance for features like reminders and fall detection with compatible sensors.

The Circle of Support allows you to add up to 10 additional family members or friends to support your aging family member.

This device was created during the height of the pandemic when in-person care was frequently impractical, but it’s promoted as a way to give independence to the elderly and others who would otherwise require physical check-ins.

Amazon says that there are “multiple layers” of protection to address any privacy concerns. This includes limited information in the activity feed and the ability to revoke permission.

Customers can sign up for a free trial of Alexa Together. After the trial period concludes, they’ll automatically be charged $19.99/month or $199/year, depending on the purchased plan.

Reference: Business Standard (Nov. 15, 2022) “Amazon adds custom alerts to Alexa Together caregiver service”


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