Heir Search: The Newfound Love For Probate Attorneys

An probate attorney on his laptop

One of the most daunting tasks that probate attorneys dread is dealing with missing or unknown heirs and assets. Luckily for most of these legal professionals, heir search has become the game changer in untangling issues like adopted or blended family dynamics and allocating fragmented assets amicably.

Most state laws require that executors and probate attorneys make a good-faith effort to find and contact any missing heir, using all viable methods. The case can’t proceed unless they file an affidavit with the court detailing their attempts to locate and contact the missing heir.

At this juncture, heir search becomes paramount, and estate and probate attorneys are increasingly becoming aware of its benefits, hence the boom in collaboration between them. Luckily, the number of forensic genealogists, attorneys, and investigators who can offer exceptional services has never been higher.

Below, we explore specific aspects of family law where heir search becomes particularly relevant and the strategic insights that probate attorneys need to master.

Record Click’s Heir Research Services, Costs, And Expectations.

What Is The Relevance Of Heir Search In Family Law?

a collection of probate laws help define mental incapacity and heirs' property and guide heir search

Estate settlement should be done legally and ethically

Without heir search, the probate process would prove a hurdle, especially if the decedent died without a Will or is contested. Besides helping locate missing heirs and beneficiaries, heir search services can aid in resolving disputes and ensure compliance with inheritance laws.

Here are a few key areas where the impact of heir search is particularly noteworthy:

1. Identifying Heirs in Intestate Succession.

When the decedent does not leave a Will, all heirs must be identified and located to determine how the estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy.

RecordClick provides a comprehensive genealogy report, backed with concrete evidence and original documentation.

2. Resolving Complex Inheritance Disputes

Estate battles are common in estate planning involving siblings, hence the nee for comprehensive heir search

Conflicts are common in estate planning involving siblings

Inheritance disputes are common in intestacy, especially if the family structure is indefinite and complex. Normally, confusion arises on who should get what portion of the estate, and there’s a likelihood of unknown beneficiaries. In this case, attorneys seek heir search services to establish accurate heirship and minimize conflicts and legal challenges.

Attorneys have the burden of proof on their chosen estate distribution plan. One critical requisite is a comprehensive genealogy report showing potential heirs and their relationship with the deceased.

In a recent case that our expert genealogist Joyce handled, stepchildren, adopted children, illegitimate children, and an estranged wife waged war on the estate distribution plans.

Joyce expertly documented the decedent’s lineage and table of consanguinity, providing all the documents to help the attorney make his case. The genealogy report plus documents served as solid evidence in court, expedited the process and protected the attorney from future litigations.

3. Uncovering Hidden Assets and Debts

Heir search is not limited to heirs; it can also help uncover hidden assets and debts associated with the estate. Accounting for all the assets and financial information is a critical step that helps the probate attorney leave no stone unturned and ensure fair estate distribution.

On several occasions, RecordClick team has served as court-appointed investigators to document every unknown or hidden asset and finances. These investigators employ a myriad of tactics to reveal outstanding liabilities, offshore accounts, and accurate assessments of the estate.

4. Ensuring Compliance with Inheritance Laws

You can share inheritance with a sibling discovered through heir search

Inheritance rights

Another reason probate attorneys need heir search is to ensure that they comply with inheritance laws. Inheritance legislations stipulate the need for accuracy and evidence about heirship and adherence to other relevant laws.

For example, a case involving a client with international ties may be subject to cross-border inheritance regulations. Therefore, the attorney must ensure compliance with domestic and foreign inheritance laws.

For this reason, the attorney may need heir search services to identify the heirs in different jurisdictions and the laws that apply to them. Such a collaboration expedites the process and ensures that all relevant laws are followed to the letter.

5. Supporting Estate Planning

A will is important in the probate court process

A valid will can save time and resources in the probate process

Estate planning is highly encouraged to avoid delays in the probate process or conflicts arising from unknown or dissatisfied heirs. It is the best way to express the true intentions of the estate and can go a long way in expediting the probate process.

Expert genealogists at RecordClick have shared their notable achievements in estate planning with estate attorneys. They describe instances of stumbling upon illegitimate children, undocumented assets, and biological patterns that could jeopardize the Will’s legitimacy in estate distribution.

Without a certified heir searcher, attorneys would barely notice such risks nor substantiate their accuracy. Such an oversight would be costly during probate once the illegitimate children and estranged wives learn of the testator’s demise.

Generally, the relevance of heir search in family law cannot be overstated. These examples illustrate how probate attorneys can leverage heir search to enhance their success in family law, inheritance and the probate process.

Contact RecordClick or schedule a call to learn how heir search applies to your case.

Our Free Consultation lets us discuss every aspect and help you decide.

How Successful Attorneys Use Heir Search To Their Advantage

The success of probate attorneys has mainly been gauged by their collaboration with other professionals, such as executors and asset valuers. However, the latest parameter has been their collaboration with heir researchers for probate purposes.

RecordClick asked probate attorneys about the benefits they reap from working with our team.

1. Quality, Efficiency and Productivity

Instructions on how to set up a trust in estate planning to avoid estate battles

Collaboration saves time, energy, and money

Attorney John (“Jack”) Vincent DiAna from DiAna Law Group hails the enhanced efficiency, productivity, and quality. Jack has worked with RecordClick for over seven years now and emphasizes the need for attorneys to create a collaborative mood as soon as they seek heir search services.

Jack describes the relief of having a professional handle a task outside your core competencies.

“I share with the heir researcher what I need with the case, the people I want identified or located, and their documentation. Experts at RecordClick help me optimize workflow and deliver in a cost-effective and timely manner.”

2. Improved Client Satisfaction and Retention

Incorporating heir search professional can help solve probate puzzles

Incorporating heir search professional can help solve many puzzles

Being the head of DiAna Law Group, John “Jack” V. DiAna also appreciates the positive and lasting impression that the collaboration has on the clientele. He acknowledges that the probate process is dreaded, but the concern has dwindled in recent years as the quick turnarounds have somewhat exceeded the client’s expectations.

According to Jack, the result is high ratings and positive reviews for his firm and long-term relationships.

“The succinct documentation and report we get from RecordClick, plus our efforts in sorting out the legal aspect, demonstrates our commitment, competence, and professionalism as a law firm. ” John “Jack” V. DiAna.

3. International Probate Search

International Probate Process and heir search

International heir search and probate Processes

Natalia Fedorova, another probate attorney from Des Moines Elder Law firm, is multilingual. So, effortlessly handles cases involving several languages, and she prefers a multilingual heir researcher conversant with Russian or German genealogy.

“In mid-2023, I worked on a case involving lost beneficiaries and a vast estate scattered in the US, Canada, and Germany. One area I need help with was finding all the beneficiaries and notifying them of the probate proceedings. I also needed family tree charts, proof of citizenship and residence, and tax obligations and exemptions of the heirs scattered across Europe.

Thankfully, RecordClick’s heir researcher, Joyce, was up to the task, and she not only helped identify the heirs but also notified them of the probate proceedings and their rights and obligations regarding the estate. She craftily documented her notice efforts and results, including proof of service, delivery confirmation, and responses from the beneficiaries.”

Natalia emphasizes the role that heir search plays in conducting international probate searches and the advantage of having a professional who can find translations for the different copies available online and in archives.

How Technology Is Transforming The Heir Search Process

A woman conducting family tree and heir research

online family tree research

Traditionally, heir search was time-consuming and labor-intensive. Traveling to foreign archives back and forth took a lot of work, not to mention the costs.  However, in the era of technology, online platforms, databases, and cutting-edge tools have made the process more efficient and quicker.

Below are the three significant ways that technology has transformed heir search:

  • Online Platforms: It is now easier to communicate remotely with all the professionals involved in the probate process and maintain the course to a common goal. Social media sites like LinkedIn also offer insights on family history and genealogy topics, creating public awareness and interest.
  • Databases: Heir researchers can access millions of records from their couch, thanks to online databases publishing vital statistics such as court, census, and land records. As a result, heir researchers can quickly find and identify crucial details and create a family tree on RecordClick.com.
  • Cutting-edge Tools: Heir research is also becoming the newfound love for probate attorneys due to its accuracy an advanced analysis. Thanks to tools like DNA testing and forensic genealogy, heir search results are more reliable than ever and admissible in court.

Take your Profession A Notch Higher

Probate attorneys reap a lot to benefit from incorporating heir search in their practice. The estate settlement process doesn’t have to be as long and tedious as it used to be.

However, every case has its uniqueness and solving it can be easier said than done.

Our team comprises professional genealogists who work with lawyers, administrators, executors, trustees, and bank and trust officers. These professionals will help you complete estate settlement, lineages, and other heir search services.

We offer no-cost, no-obligation consultations, even if you are not planning to start a search right away. Feel free to ask any questions — we look forward to connecting.

Contact Record Click today or schedule a call.

READ MORE: Record Click’s Heir Research Services, Costs, And Expectations.