CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s the largest return of unclaimed property ever in the United States, and it’s in Illinois.
State Treasurer Michael Fredrich just returned $11 million dollars to the 119 heirs of Joseph Richard Stancak. The Chicago man died in 2016.
Investment accounts, life insurance benefits, property and safe deposit boxes get turned over to the state if the owner has not made contact in three years.
Most of Stancak’s 119 heirs live in Poland (where his parents were born) and Slovakia. but there are seven relatives in the Chicago area. There’s little known about how Stancak became wealthy, but he did own a boat named “Easy.”
“This is a life-changing amount of money,” Frerichs said. “I only wish we knew more about Mr. Stancak.”
Frerich’s said unclaimed property is money or accounts within financial institutions or companies where there’s been no activity for several years. Some of that includes forgotten bank accounts, unpaid life insurance benefits, things left in safe deposit boxes and other items.
“Returning unclaimed property is a core function of the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office, no matter how long it takes,” according to Frerich’s office.
What is known is that Stancak was born in Chicago in August of 1929. He last lived in a house on South Troy Street. He was found in that home on December 23rd of 2016. He was 87 years old.
Stancak’s parents were born in Poland. They married at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Passaic, New Jersey, on November 27, 1909. They had seven children: Joseph, Mary, Paul, Anna, John, Helen and Frances. Only Anna and John married. Neither Joseph nor his siblings had children. Each passed away before Joseph.
Because Stancak and his siblings had no children, the Stancak estate had to ID family through his parents. That meant going up the family tree. A few relatives are in the United States, including New Jersey, New York and Minnesota. Seven are in the Chicago area.
“It is unclear how Mr. Stancak accumulated such wealth. In 2019, a variety of investments began to be turned over to the treasurer’s office as unclaimed property; such investments typically are surrendered if the owner has not had contact in three years and the investment firm is unable to locate the owner,” according to Frerich’s office.
Attorney Kenneth Piercey is a partner with Piercey & Associates in Barrington and is the administrator of Mr. Stancak’s estate.
“It is a great privilege to be able to assist the heirs in collecting their rightful inheritance,” Piercey said.
Prior to Stancak, the highest paid unclaimed property claim in Illinois was $8.1 million. That was to a suburban manufacturer of auto components in 2012. The largest claim paid to a person was $5 million in 2013 to a Cook County woman.
My office returned more than $22 million in unclaimed property to Illinoisans during the month of September. We have returned approximately $1.5 billion since first taking office.
Check: https://t.co/uXQqcXH85K to see if the treasurer’s office is holding money for you. pic.twitter.com/76fnai7OTi
— Treasurer Michael Frerichs (@ILTreasurer) October 6, 2022 CBS Chicago Team