Seattle Immigrant Leaves Inheritance to Surprising Candidate

October 12, 2015 11:20 am
by David Jakeman

In the back of most everyone’s mind is the hope that they have a rich immigration attorney uncle somewhere about to die and leave them a fortune. Most of us will never have that kind of luck. But Uncle Sam was recently the beneficiary of some very generous immigrants.

Immigrant Inheritance

Peter and Joan Petrasek were immigrants who decided to settle down in Seattle later in their life. Peter had left war-torn Czechoslovakia for the United States. He had been put in a youth camp run by the German Air Force, but in 1949 he was able to immigrate to the United States. Peter and his wife did not have any known descendents, so they decided to leave their money to the United States.

In total, the couple left $847,215.57. That’s quite the sum for a couple who had worked their way up in a new country. Many people see this as an example of what the unique opportunities that the United States provides that would be impossible in other countries. Peter worked as a metallurgist, and his wife Joan worked as an upholsterer. Joan passed away from breast cancer a decade before her husband passed away. The two had decided to leave their remaining assets to the U.S. government, which put the money in a general fund to be spent for government programs.

Avoiding the Taxman

Immigration lawyers in Seattle and around the country know there are a lot of jokes about lawyers. Lawyers are some of the most despised people of all. But even worse than lawyers is the taxman. Most people at a party would rather say they’re a lawyer than say they work for the IRS. I guess it could always be worse. You could be a lawyer working for the IRS.

The point here is not to jockey for position with who is disliked the least, but to say how amazing it is that someone would decide to leave all their money to the government. Estimates are that the government would burn through Petrasek’s donation in less than eight seconds. 1 No word as to whether or not the government had to pay the estate tax.

It’s encouraging to see how deeply this immigrant couple had come to appreciate their adopted homeland and how they had been able to work hard and create a comfortable life for themselves. Theirs is not the only immigrant success story. Many immigrants bring energy and vision with them to their new home and become contributors. They, like most Americans, just don’t usually write Uncle Sam into their will.

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