Read this NY Times article about a man who passed away with no will, no heirs, and $40 million+ in his name: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/nyregion/holocaust-survivor-left-an-estate-worth-almost-40-million-but-no-heirs.html.
It is an incredibly sad story on several fronts – not to mention that the entire fortune might end up going to New York State!
…whatever money is remaining from Mr. Blum’s estate will be passed to the city’s Department of Finance. If, after three years, no one comes forward, the money would go to the state comptroller’s office of unclaimed funds, which has $12 billion in its accounts dating to 1943. That office keeps a portion of the estate and transfers a portion to the state’s general fund. If an heir comes forward, the entire amount is returned.
The article doesn’t mention any charitable interests but I am sure there were and if your organization had any connection to the late Mr. Blum, you should be sitting shiva now (the seven day mourning period for immediate relatives in the Jewish tradition).
If this type of story doesn’t inspire your organization to get going with legacy conversations with your supporters, I don’t know what will.
A friend of mine read this post and the article, checked his files, and saw that Mr. Blum was not only a donor, but they had been speaking with him last year! I am guessing that Mr. Blum gave regularly to many nonprofits – all of whom might be calling the public administrator today!