Estates can be tricky to navigate, especially after the death of someone close to you. Locating heirs to an estate if they are not commonly known can be a long and drawn-out process. Here are some places to start on your search for relatives or beneficiaries to the person’s estate.
Heritage Consulting helps with estate issues including helping you to locate heirs to an estate, providing proof of relationship of heirs, helping provide due diligence to courts, or identifying family members that are still living. Through quality research, we can help you narrow down your estate search.
What Are Heirs To An Estate Or Beneficiaries?
Heirs are those who are legally entitled to your property or assets if you don’t have a will, whereas beneficiaries are those who inherit what is legally listed in the will. Heirs are usually people who are related by blood or marriage, like spouses and children. Heirs usually inherit land or other assets when the person did not have an estate plan laid out.
Beneficiaries are declared before the person’s death and can be anyone who you choose. These can be friends, colleagues, or organizations. Beneficiaries can be family or blood relatives as well. Those beneficiaries listed in a will will only get what is specifically left to them, those listed in a trust only inherit the assets listed in a trust.
Before the beneficiaries or heirs to an estate can inherit the assets, there is a legal process that must be followed, also known as probate. Probate requires the appointing of a responsible person (executor of the estate) to help facilitate the management of estates, keep track of finances, and ensure that all beneficiaries get what was owed to them.
1- Contact Any Known Relatives
A good place to begin is with those you already know. While they themselves may not be the heirs or beneficiaries, it may help to speak with them and glean any information they may have. Maybe they are aware of children or grandchildren of the deceased that you are not. They may also have the contact information or last known living place of spouses or children.
If the deceased did not have an estate plan, the legal order of heirs is as follows:
- Children (biological or adopted)
- Extended family or next of kin
If the family has not been in contact with the deceased or lives out of state, a close friend or niece, or nephew may have to work to locate the family.
2- Search Property Records
Searching databases for relatives is the next place to start. If you are unsure who the next of kin is, you will need to start with birth records, marriage licenses, or other documents before working on property records. It is always important to make sure you are looking for the right persons or people who are truly related to the deceased.
Hiring one of our professional genealogists will help you get faster access to records that are beneficial to locating a missing heir or beneficiary. Some of the documents that we can access include electoral roll data, consumer databases, credit references, birth and marriage certificates, and other genealogical data sets.
3- Examine The Will
For those who can read the will and if one is available, examine who is listed in the will and what heirs will receive what assets. If there is no will that exists, it will be a much longer process to identify the heirs and ensure they get what is rightfully theirs.
A will is also the place where no family members can be listed as beneficiaries. A will makes the probate process go much smoother because it clearly lays out who gets what items and how much money or financial compensation each person receives. There is less legal trouble to work through when a will is clearly lined out.
4- Hire A Genealogist For Help
When you have tried and exhausted all other options, or you do not want to locate heirs to an estate on your own, genealogists can help. Heritage Consulting can help you will specific needs without working with a specific probate attorney. Our many research agents can help find records across the world with their research skills and access to Family History Library.
We have been providing estate help for over 30 years. Whether you are doing research individually or are working with a probate attorney, we can help!
Estate Help From Heritage Consulting
Our company has been in the business of genealogy and family history since 1978, so we have learned the skills and means necessary to help locate heirs to an estate. We can help with other issues regarding wills and probates to help you have a smooth process after the death of a loved one.
Genealogy research is important for many reasons, but no matter what your reasoning, Heritage Consulting can help you clearly see your family line and learn more about your ancestry. Our staff is highly experienced and wants to help you gain more knowledge regarding family affairs. Reach out to us here for estate and probate help.