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There are several different ways of learning that you've struck it rich. Some may see their winning numbers on a television screen. Others may hear the door knock as Publisher's Clearinghouse waits outside. In Arlene Magdanz's case, she got a phone call telling her she was Walter Samasko Jr.'s closest living relative.
Who is Walter Samasko Jr. you may ask?
Well, not that many people may know as the Carson City, Nevada man was a recluse. In fact, he was dead for a month before anyone even realized. And that was only because the stink of his house was overpowering his neighbors, reports the Las Vegas Sun.
But once authorities cleaned out his house, they found out that the man had $200 in his bank account ... and $7 million in gold in his garage.
Samasko had no close relatives. In fact, government officials had to check his mother's funeral records just to learn who his relatives were. And by a stroke of luck (or genetics), Arlene Magdanz, a substitute teacher in California, happened to be Samasko's closest surviving relative, reports the Sun.
When you die without a will, it doesn't matter if you had no close family or friends or if you intended to leave them nothing. Just about every state has laws of intestacy which provide for who will inherit your property should you die without a will.
So a recluse will generally have to take active steps to disinherit his family by stating so in his will. It really isn't that difficult, and most estate planning attorneys could probably write such a provision in just a few sentences.
But Walter Samasko Jr. never took the time to disown his relatives. Maybe he didn't expect to die, or just didn't care. Whatever the case, the recluse made a lasting impression on a California woman, and Arlene Magdanz can now spend her time researching how to turn gold coins and bars into cold hard cash.