If the attorney files the estate case before knowing who the heirs to an estate are, the heir search firms will find this case in the courthouse. Heir search firms work on contingency only. The heir search firms are usually at the courthouse daily reviewing the probate filings. If they find a file that has ‘unknown heirs’ they will file this case as HOT with their prospective corporate company. This company will go to work on this case file and will quickly figure out who they think the heirs of the estate will be. The heir search firm will then contact the unknowing heirs and tell them they are likely heirs to an estate. BUT, they won’t tell them who died until this unknowing heir signs a contract with the heir search firm giving up anywhere from 15% to 50% of their estimated inheritance.
Some of these firms will go so far as to leave people out if they won’t sign a contract. That is why it is essential to hire a disinterested third party to do the research. We work only by the hour and our only goal is to locate all of the heirs and create for you the type of report you want to see as per the information you shared in the contract with the researcher.