Millions of dollars were left unclaimed after a US man died six years ago – and now 119 distant relatives are set to receive big pay cheques. Joseph Richard Stancak had a net worth of around $11 million dollars when he died aged 87. Mr Stancak preferred a quiet life and little is known about him, according to the treasury office in is home state, Illinois.
Mr Stancak was born in Chicago in August 1929 and lived in a house on humble South Troy Street, located three miles east of Midway International Airport and eight miles west of the city’s harbour.
This is where he was found dead on December 23, 2016. He died of natural causes.
At least 10 of his relatives are known to live in the US – in New York, New Jersey, Minnesota and Chicago.
The rest are believed to live in Europe, specifically Poland and Slovakia.
Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said his office returned $11M to Mr Stancak’s estate.
It marks the largest returned unclaimed property return in state and US history.
This refers to money or accounts within financial institutions or companies in which there has been no activity for several years.
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Unclaimed property includes forgotten bank accounts, unpaid life insurance benefits, the contents of safe deposit boxes and other items.
In a statement, Mr Frerichs said: “This is a life-changing amount of money. I only wish we knew more about Mr Stancak.”
The millions of dollars will be largely distributed among his relatives in Poland and Slovakia.
Speaking to WGN Radio, Mr Frerichs said: “(Mr Stancak) had a boat named Easy, but it was not easy to track down all his relatives.
“The man acquired his fortune quietly.
“People didn’t know about, we didn’t know about how he accumulated it all, but we do know he had an attorney who is helping to return that money.
“Basically since he didn’t have direct descendants, and he doesn’t have siblings with direct descendants, we had to go up to his parents and find their siblings, and then go back down the family tree to their children and grandchildren to be able to pay out his estate.”
Mr Frerichs added “it’s my job to return this money” and said: “This was passed as a consumer protection law over 60 years ago.”
Before Mr Stancak’s fortune was discovered, Illinois’s largest unclaimed property was $8.1 million, paid to a suburban manufacturer of auto components in 2012.