What would it be like to find out you’re an heir? Attorneys, estate executors, financial institutions, and other professionals have the power to transform someone’s life, but they must first search to locate that person. Finding missing heirs and beneficiaries is very similar to finding anyone else, except that you think that the person would like to be found. You can leave trails behind so that person can find you. There are several approaches to tackling this problem and here we will try to list some of them for you.
What Is an Heir and Lineage Search
Heir research or Estate Settlement is usually performed when someone dies without a will, and also in some States with a will, but regardless, all the possible heirs need to be notified. When this happens, the living heirs must give evidence that they are connected to the deceased. If the family wants, they can hire heir search companies which will try to find all heirs of the deceased. During the research process, a professional genealogist is determining possible ties. The genealogist creates a family tree of the deceased, looking for documents that can prove someone’s relationship. In the end, they need to prepare a detailed report on findings. The heir report is usually presented to the court as evidence.
1. Identify the Will
For most cases, finding the inheritors is fairly simple. You find the will, read it, and then you distribute the belongings by following it. But when no such will can be found, then the matter becomes complicated. Some inheritors, so that they can inherit the belongings, falsify the will, and then they plant it somewhere in the house of the deceased. After you have determined that there is no will, you can apply to the probate court that no will exists. In this case, the possessions will be distributed according to the law.
2. Read Between The Lines
Examine the will thoroughly if you have the opportunity to do so. Your search will be simpler if the testament names the heirs by name. Your search will be more difficult if the will contains ambiguous wording, such as “I give the balance of my inheritance to any identified heirs,” or if there is no will. So be sure that such heirs exist before taking any action.
3. Hiring Hunters
Heir hunting is a special part of genealogy that locates missing heirs. These people specialize in locating missing, unknown, or lost heirs. They also contact insurance companies to see whether the beneficiaries have some unclaimed funds there, and here they can show their great detective skills. Different companies vary in quality of service, so it is very important to pick someone that is trusted.
4. Due Diligence Search
The law will notify you of the necessity to look for heirs who have gone missing. State law typically compels the estate to conduct a “due diligence” search, meaning to place an ad in the local newspaper in order to get in touch with your lost family members, if the will is loosely drafted or if an heir cannot be traced or recognized.
5. Find Other Relatives or Friends
The best place to start your search is with the decedent’s known family members. Inquire about any leads they have on the missing heir. Use straightforward questions to stimulate their memory. If that doesn’t work, you can always check a person’s friends or colleagues.
You can also go to his/her social media and look for clues, family photos, mutual friends, or locations that they have visited. Also, you can use social media to directly look for the heir, there could be an address or phone number that you could use to locate them.
6. Investigate on your Own
The first thing you need to do when investigating alone is that you need to gather as much information as you can. The difficulty of the task will depend on the amount of information you have. Some necessary information includes:
- Birth and death certificate, marriage license
- Real estate or credit records
- Employment documents
- Education documents
- Family correspondence
The death of someone, especially someone close, can be very difficult at times, and after such an event you need to take the last wishes of the deceased and fulfill them. Thankfully, there is a system in place for everything after someone’s death which is regulated by law, and if we have difficulties finding all the heirs listed in the will we have specialists who can find who you are looking for and thus make it a lot easier.