119 Strangers to Inherit $11 Million From Chicago Man

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Excited man holding money
Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

More than 100 people are going to get a $60,000 surprise, thanks to a distant relative who recently died and left behind $11 million.

Block Club Chicago reports that Joseph Stancak died in 2016 and left behind the small fortune. Because he was never married and had no children or other surviving immediate family, his estate now will be split among 119 relatives — none of whom had ever heard of Stancak before.

It is estimated that after taxes, each heir will net about $60,000.

Tracking down the relatives wasn’t easy. Stancak — who was 87 when he died — left no will. Investigators spent years trying to trace his family tree and discovered 119 relatives, many of whom were Stancak’s cousins once or twice removed, according to attorney Kenneth Piercey, who represents the estate.

Piercey told Block Club Chicago, a nonprofit news organization, that just a handful of the heirs live in Chicago. The rest live in places as widespread as:

  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Canada
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom

The $11 million estate represents the single greatest cache of unclaimed money in U.S. history. Piercey acknowledged to Block Club Chicago that he has “never seen a case this complicated before.”

But he added that finding an estate with unsuspected riches is not unusual:

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

You can get rich too

Stancak’s estate appears to be a testament to the idea that over a long period of time, you can slowly, quietly — and rather easily — get rich by following a few simple principles.

It appears that the long-time resident of the Gage Park neighborhood built his wealth simply by investing in mutual funds over many years. Neighbors say he lived frugally.

Investing in the market and leaving your money sit for many years is a tried-and-true way to build wealth. So is living beneath your means.

You can learn about many other ways to quietly amass a fortune in the Money Talks News course Money Made Simple.

MTN founder Stacy Johnson offers 14 weeks of lessons on money basics in this course. You will learn how to improve your financial life in all the following areas:

  • Budgeting
  • Banking
  • Credit
  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Investing
  • Real estate
  • Estate planning

As Stacy writes:

“Whatever your situation, understanding and learning to control your money is going to improve your life. If you’re rich, you want to stay that way. If you’re not, you want to get that way.”

Get smarter with your money!

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