SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs’ returned $11 million to a late Chicago man’s estate — the largest returned unclaimed property dollar amount in U.S. history.
Mr. Stancak was born in Chicago in August 1929 and last lived in a house on South Troy Street where he was found on Dec. 23, 2016. He was 87 years old.
While it is unclear how Mr. Stancak accumulated such wealth, the estate was turned over to the treasurer’s office as unclaimed property, according to the Illinois State Treasurer Office press release.
Investments like these are typically surrendered if the owner has not had contact in three years and the investment firm is unable to locate the owner.
Mr. Stancak and his siblings never had children, so the estate had to identify family through his parents and the majority of these heirs reside in Poland and Slovakia.
“This is a life-changing amount of money,” Frerichs said. “I only wish we knew more about Mr. Stancak.”
Joseph R. Stancak died of natural causes just before Christmas in 2016, and all 11 of his heirs live in Poland or Slovania.
Prior to Mr. Stancak, the highest paid unclaimed property claim in Illinois was $8.1 million to a suburban manufacturer of auto components in 2012.
The largest claim paid to an individual was $5 million to a Cook County woman in 2013.