A substitute teacher has been found to be the only heir to a fortune of gold coins discovered in the home of a reclusive cousin who quietly stashed away a treasure of more than 7 million US dollars before he died.
A court hearing in Carson City, Nevada, is scheduled for Tuesday when a judge is expected to certify first cousin Arlene Magdanz, from California, as the lone heir to the treasure valued at 7.4 million dollars (£4.5 million). It was found by a cleaning crew in the home of Walter Samaszko Jr, Carson City clerk-recorder Alan Glover said.
Mr Samaszko, 69, had lived a quiet life in Nevada's capital city since the late 1960s and no one apparently knew of his wealth. Records show he withdrew just 500 dollars a month from his stock accounts to pay modest bills, said Mr Glover, who is handling Mr Samaszko's affairs as public administrator.
Mr Samaszko apparently had no living family in Carson City, so genealogical researchers went to work to find relatives elsewhere, and found Ms Magdanz was the only living heir.
A crew hired by Mr Glover to clean up Mr Samaszko's house discovered the eye-popping stash: boxes of gold coins and bullion in the garage. More boxes were later found, and Mr Glover said the gold coins, some neatly wrapped in foil and plastic cases, were enough to fill two wheelbarrows.
Mr Glover said he and experts brought in to help with the case had made progress in appraising the fortune and disposing of some of the other property, including the house. He said he is taking Mr Samaszko's 1968 Ford Mustang California Special in for servicing to get it ready for sale at about 17,000 dollars.
Mr Samaszko also had money market, stock and bank accounts totalling 165,570 dollars and 5,330 dollars in other property in the home, but the vast majority of the fortune was in gold coins. Appraiser Howard Herz filed his report several weeks ago listing a total of 2,695 coins.
"What some individuals have called a hoard of gold is, in fact, a quite well-thought-out investment in gold," he wrote.
Once the gold and other property is sold off and the taxes and expenses paid, the proceeds will become the sole property of Ms Magdanz. Those expenses include the appraisals, storage of the gold and other property, legal fees and 2% of the eventual proceeds that, by law, go to the public administrator who handled everything.
Mr Glover said there had been a few callers trying to claim some or all of the gold is theirs - one of them annoying enough that Glover got a court order blocking him from further communications. None of the callers presented any evidence to support their claims, he said. "If they have a true claim, they've got to file court papers," he said.