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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”