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Von Langen
Forensic Genealogists &
International Investigations
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Troubling Trend Resulting in Added Work for Estate Administrators

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As the experts in forensic genealogy, we’re often contacted when the work of, shall we say, less scrupulous heir hunting companies is being questioned by estate administrators or trustees. Our team at Von Langen LLC has worked hard to build a reputation for providing trustworthy, evidence-based genealogical reports that can be relied on in court proceedings. Increasingly, this reputation has led to our offices being contacted to confirm the findings of heir hunters before the proceeds of an estate are paid out to potentially wrongful heirs. Learn more below, and contact our offices for help locating missing heirs.

The job of finding and notifying heirs of an estate that they’re entitled to file a claim is a necessary one. People are moving farther away from their hometowns and families, making it more likely that this distance would result in losing touch with extended family members. In theory, heir hunters that read about unclaimed inheritances and locate and notify the heirs are providing a valuable service. However, when these companies spend more time getting potential heirs to agree to their contracts for steep contingency fees than they do documenting the research that leads them to these heirs, their results simply aren’t trustworthy. Administrators’ liability and professional reputations are on the line. If these heirs are presented to administrators by the heir hunter’s attorney without sufficient evidence of their heirship, administrators are forced to uncover the evidence themselves that either links them to the deceased, or that may disprove their claims.

Von Langen LLC has fielded numerous requests from frustrated estate administrators who have been contacted by heir hunters’ attorneys. These administrators receive claims of heirship from heir hunters’ attorneys, but the heir hunters have provided little to no evidence which would support their claims. The administrators then commission us to either find documentation that proves these claims or to locate all the true heirs. In many cases, our research reveals that the “heirs” being presented to administrators are simply persons (usually, family members) that the heir hunters could convince to sign a contract, rather than the rightful heir who is the closest living relative to the decedent. If the true heir refuses to agree to what are often the exorbitant fees included in their contracts, the heir hunters simply decline to notify the estate of their existence, assuming the administrators will never learn of the identities of all the rightful heirs. Von Langen LLC has established itself as the diligent documentation-backed option for verifying the identity of all purported heirs.

If you’re an estate administrator or trustee who needs help locating and identifying heirs to an estate or trust, contact the offices of Von Langen LLC for a consultation on your case at 800-525-7722.