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Chicago resident Joseph Stancak passed away in 2016, and he left behind an estate worth $11 million. He didn’t have any Will that could be found, and he also didn’t seem to have any heirs. His estate has been unclaimed since that time, and it’s considered to be one of the largest unclaimed estates anywhere in the US.
More than 119 of Stancak’s distant relatives around the world were notified that they would get some money. Then, in the summer of 2023, a mysterious Will appeared in Cook County’s probate court.
A petition was filed in June to probate the newly located Will, and there was a hold placed on the payouts to Stancak’s relatives. It’s not just the probate process that has to be considered, though. It’s also that the Will’s legitimacy has to be determined. It seems odd that a Will would just now appear, but it’s not impossible. However, the biggest reason for suspicion is that the Will wasn’t found until the unclaimed estate and upcoming payouts made headlines at a national level.
According to the newly produced Will, which was allegedly drafted and signed in 2015, Stancak left the entirely of his fortune to Smart Kids Child Care, Inc. There were two copies of the Will provided to the court. One was held by Smart Kids, and the other was allegedly offered through a personal injury attorney named John Alleman. However, Alleman died in a plane crash a couple of months after the signing of the Will, so he clearly couldn’t have produced his copy of the Will.
Ken Piercey, an attorney who was appointed to administer Stancak’s estate, has said that the Will is poorly drafted and he found it highly suspicious. Stancak also apparently had zero connection to Smart Kids Childcare, which isn’t even located in the Chicago area. Instead, it’s in the Bronx, New York. While it’s likely that the Will won’t be found valid, legal work still has to be done to make sure it’s not a legitimate Will. Until a ruling is made on that, Stancak’s distant relatives will have to wait on their payouts.
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