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Friday, December 14, 2012

Distant relative may inherit gold fortune found in man's garage

This news story was reported in the National Post. Walter Samaszko Jr. died leaving $7.4 million in gold in his garage as well as a few other assets. He left no will, and the estate is going to a distant relative who has been located by genealogists. Click here to read the story.

I wonder why Mr. Samaszko never made a will? Apparently Mr. Samaszko had no children or other close living relatives. I've met a number of people who don't have children and therefore don't really know what to do with their estates. They sometimes put off doing their wills while they think about it. This often results in someone passing away without ever having done a will. You'll note at the end of the National Post story that a number of people are calling to claim a share of Mr. Samaszko's estate, and one person is so persistent (despite having no support or proof of his claim) that they had to get some type of court injunction against him.

That is always a danger when someone leaves a large amount of money with no will; relatives, friends and complete strangers come out of the woodwork hoping to get a piece of the pie.

There are plenty of things you can do with an estate even if you don't have children to whom you can leave your money. If you don't feel like leaving it to your siblings or other relatives, you should consider charities. Everyone from food banks to animal shelters could use a hand. You could set up a scholarship for deserving but financially disadvantaged students. You could leave money to build a park or set aside land for an ecological reserve. Your options are limited only by the size of the estate.

I really don't know whether this was Mr. Samaszko's reason for not making a will. But if it was, it's too bad he didn't talk to an estate planner to find out some great ideas for sharing his fortune in a creative, positive way.

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