When someone passes away without an estate plan, by law his or her property goes to the deceased's closest living relatives. However, if a person has no known close relatives, then what happens to the assets of the estate? It depends on whether any other relatives can be found.
Kathleen Hilda Ryan passed away in Greenwhich, United Kingdom in 2013 with an estate valued at $788,000. She had inherited the bulk of it from her sister, Joan. No will or other estate planning documents could be found.
Kathleen had no children of her own and no living siblings.
In fact, as far as anyone knows, she had no living relatives at all. However, it is believed that her aunt, Lizzie, emigrated from Ireland to New York at some point.
Thus, the search is on for what happened to Lizzie and whether she had any children.
If any of Lizzie's children are found, then they would inherit the estate. If no one is found in 30 years, then the estate will become the property of the British Crown.
Many people have submitted claims to being the descendants of Lizzie, but thus far no one has been able to prove it.
Irish Central reported the story in an article titled "Is your ancestor Lizzie Ryan from Westmeath? You could inherit $788,000."
In the United States, the law is basically the same with one big exception. If no relative is found the estate does not go to the British Crown, but rather it passes to the state in which the estate property is located.
Thus, unless you want your estate to become the property of state government, it is very important that you have some kind of estate plan, especially if you do not have any close relatives who can be easily found.
Of course, if you are descended from a Lizzie Ryan who emigrated from Ireland to New York in the mid-1900s, you might want to stake a claim to the estate of Kathleen Hilda Ryan while you can.
Reference: Irish Central (May 16, 2015) "Is your ancestor Lizzie Ryan from Westmeath? You could inherit $788,000."