News of Millionaire Maiden’s Estate Shows Need for Estate Planning

MP900438729A fortune left behind by a millionaire maiden was distributed this week to her long-lost heirs, according to The (Alton IL) Telegraph's article, "Treasurer distributes Granite City millionaire maiden's fortune."

The County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler said he was ordered by the probate court to pay the heirs in Mary Petroff's $1.36 million estate. Four dozen family members from Granite City to Bulgaria will receive the money left behind by the 97-year-old woman who died in 2011.

Mary and her sister didn't marry, and in their 90s, they began to suffer from dementia. Each was appointed a legal guardian. When Anne died in 2009, her estate passed on to Mary. Both sisters lived a modest life. After Mary passed away, the state of Illinois discovered she was a millionaire with no known heirs or will.

Prenzler said following Mary's death, her estate was placed with his office for safekeeping in accordance with Illinois law, which stipulates that unclaimed monies are kept in the county for a period of 10 years before being turned over to the state. However, in Mary's case, there were people who came forward and claimed to be her relatives. The familial relationship was determined last month by a probate judge. Then the County Treasurer's Office cut checks for 48 relatives. Mary's heirs will receive anywhere from about $3,000 to $110,000 from her estate. The largest amount of the estate will be headed to Mary's relatives in Bulgaria.

An attorney who was tasked with distributing the checks for his clients—most of whom are from Bulgaria—commented that the laws regarding estates are different in each state. If Mary had lived in Missouri, mostly likely the distribution would have gone to fewer family members.

Reference: The (Alton IL) Telegraph (January 25, 2016) "Treasurer distributes Granite City millionaire maiden's fortune"

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