Why Search for Heirs Now?!
Estate administrators, trustees, and executors all have a legal duty to locate the heirs to an estate. In the case where beneficiaries and heirs are listed in a will, and where the locations of all beneficiaries and heirs are easily known, this task is straightforward. Where the beneficiaries of a will or trust are not specifically named or clearly identified, or the benefactor died without a will (known as dying “intestate”), the job of learning who should inherit estate funds becomes far more complex.
Finding some heirs doesn’t mean you’ve found all heirs
If you’re acting as an estate administrator or trustee, perhaps the searches conducted by yourself or your administrative assistant have turned up one or more heirs over the course of several months, or people claiming to be heirs have contacted you. You assume that you’ve done your due diligence and are eager to distribute the assets and close the book on the estate. However, if you haven’t yet used the services of a forensic genealogist, you may not yet know the identities of those for whom you should be searching.
Know who you’re searching for with the help of a forensic genealogist
Unlike most private investigators, a forensic genealogist reconstructs the family tree of the deceased person. This helps estate administrators know exactly who they’re looking for and allows them to feel confident that all heirs have been located before funds are distributed. It is best to get help from a forensic genealogist as early as possible in the process of searching for heirs. This will help you avoid wasting time on unproductive search methods, relying instead on the expertise and extensive network of the forensic genealogist to conduct a more efficient, accurate search.
Prevent costly mistakes through more accurate heir searches
Beginning your search for heirs using an accurate depiction of the decedent’s family tree will prevent you from wasting time on fraudulent claims from would-be beneficiaries. It will also prevent you from making what could be a very costly mistake in distributing estate funds before all heirs are known. Should you discover additional heirs after the estate has been distributed, or learn that a putative heir’s claims were fraudulent, you could end up being held financially responsible for these errors.
For assistance with searches for unknown or missing heirs, contact a forensic genealogy specialist at Von Langen, LLC at 800-525-7722.