On April 27, 2013, the New York Times published an article about Roman Blum, a successful New York real estate developer and holocaust survivor, who died without a will. Blum was divorced with no children or other known heirs. The Richmond County Public Administrator who is handling Blum’s estate is in the process of liquidating Blum’s assets and working with a genealogist to identify relatives entitled to inherit his estate. If no heirs are identified, Blum’s 40 million dollar estate will go to New York state, making it the largest unclaimed estate in New York’s history. Blum’s accountant urged him on several occasions to write a will. According to his friends, Blum became increasingly private about his financial affairs and may not have been willing to share the details of his financial affairs with his lawyer. They also suspect that Blum resisted writing a will because did not want to face his own mortality.
This scenario is not unusual. Many people put off writing a will for many of the same reasons that Roman Blum did. However, his story shows how important it is to develop an estate plan.