A couple that had emigrated from Europe to the U.S. in the aftermath of the World War II decided to leave all their assets to the U.S. government. Although, their last will was found three years ago, only this month was the U.S. Treasury able to collect the $847,212 estate.
The money was deposited at the U.S. Department of the Treasury nine days ago and authorities believe that the couple’s decision was motivated by a sense of gratitude towards the country that had shielded them from the horrors that had followed the WWII.
Nevertheless, Peter Petrasek and Joan Petrasek, who fled Europe in the 1950s, never told anyone anything about their true motives. But Peter Winn, an assistant U.S. attorney that was involved in the lengthy process of estate liquidation, described the case as “interesting.” He also said that such actions reminds America that it was founded by immigrants who were “pretty proud” to be its citizens.
Mr. Petrasek died three years ago on May 20, while his wife died in 1998 of breast cancer. Since her death, neighbors report, the man had led a solitary life. He rarely interacted with them and was keeping a close watch on his finances.
But it took the government three years to collect the money in the couple’s will. In 2012, the authorities were contacted by Carrie Balkema, a lawyer working on behalf of Mr. Petrasek but hired by his neighbor and close friend Ronald Wright.
Balkema recently told reporters that the couple had no surviving relatives or off-springs, so they asked their neighbor to be their will’s executor after their death. Wright hired the attorney for assistance shortly after his friend’s death. The neighbor couldn’t be contacted for comment.
The lawyer explained that most of the money was obtained from selling the Petrasek’s home, but the sum reached nearly $1 million after their bank accounts and Mr. Petrasek stocks were turned into cash.
People close to the couple said that Peter had fled Czechoslovakia soon after the World War II and settled in Canada. There he met Joan and married. A few years later they emigrated to the U.S. The rest of the couple’s life remains largely unknown.
After Joan’s death, Mr. Petrasek didn’t remarry, while in recent years he had let the house in ruin. His neighbor recalls that he was a “frugal man” and fueled his oil furnace with used oil.
Balkema said that she was curious about the case when Wright contacted her, but she also felt sad that the couple had no one to leave their estate to.
Image Source: ABC News
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