BUSINESS

What Happens When Your Neighbors Turn Out To Be Secret Millionaires

11/27/2013 03:35 pm ET
Courtesy Kathleen Magowan Estate

Pro tip: Always be nice to the neighbors. You never know when one of them will turn out to be a multimillionaire.

That's the lesson of the story of the Magowans, a pair of elderly twins from Connecticut who lived in a modest house, working middle class jobs -- and died with an estate worth close to $10 million.

It has taken attorneys nearly two years to parse through the accounts of Kathleen Magowan, who died in 2011, and her twin brother, Robert, who died in 2010, the Hartford Courant reports. But besides the twins' secret wealth, it was the Magowans' generosity in death that has been the real shocker for residents of the pair's hometown of Simsbury, Conn.

It was revealed that 87-year-old Kathleen, a veteran first-grade teacher, left more than $5 million to 15 charities, as well as seven different relatives and neighbors, according to the Courant. She left about $500,000 to the area's public schools, $500,000 to her alma mater, the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, more than $400,000 to her assisted living facility and another $375,000 to her local Catholic parish.

The Courant notes that the keys to the siblings' financial success were a frugal lifestyle and Robert's keen eye for investment. As an agent for Prudential Insurance, Robert bought stocks in the '60s and '70s that turned out to be very valuable.

But recipients of Kathleen's staggering generosity remembered her as quiet, professional and kind.

"She was very much the schoolteacher," Deene Morris, director of development at McLean Continuing Care Community, where Magowan lived, told Yahoo! News. "She became a part of the community when she joined our pool. She was always recommending books and having discussions in the pool."

Katie Wilde, executive assistant to the superintendent of Simsbury Public Schools, told the outlet that Magowan's donation was the largest the district had received in 33 years. But Morris said she didn't think her longtime resident would have wanted a big to-do about the donations.

The Magowans are not the only multimillionaires to escape local notice. In 2010, Illinois resident Grace Groner passed away quietly in a one-bedroom house with a television from the 1960s. Due to a fortuitous stock purchase, Groner's estate was worth close to $7 million, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time. Groner left her entire fortune to her alma mater Lake Forest College. The huge gift was set to go to a foundation to help students afford internships and study-abroad programs, per The Tribune.

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