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The Client Failed to Leave a List of Known Heirs: Now What?

First I want to tell you that I love what I do. Every day I get to do genealogy which is my passion. I spend my days recreating family trees for my client’s cases. The clients [attorneys | fiduciaries | guardians] need to know who all the potential heirs are to a specific case so that those family members can be notified in the probate matters.

What Does the Final Report Look Like?

You as the client define what you need that final report to look like when the contract is signed and the retainer sent. You decide if you want a list of heirs with confirmed addresses or an affidavit. All known living heirs to an estate are color coded in the reports so that you can quickly identify them on each family line. I can send you a descendant list that fits on a page (or more depending on size of family group). Or, I can send you a box chart that you can print out giving you the same information. Again, your call as to what you need to see to make sense of the information.

Should This Work be done before the Probate is Filed or after?

I strongly recommend that the work is done before you file the probate with the state.  In doing the research first it allows us to create the family tree and find all the heirs to be notified first. If these people are to inherit anything it also assures them that they will receive 100% of whatever is coming to them.

If the work on the family tree commences after the probate is filed it is recommended that you have a forensic genealogist create the family tree. The case will likely be picked up by an heir search firm if you don’t already have a list of known heirs. Many times I’ve done work at the same time an heir search firm has. If the case is picked up by an heir search firm then the heirs will receive roughly 70% of their potential inheritance. It will also drag out the estate proceeding [typically] over a year or more.

Recent Articles:

Missing Heirs: Forensic Genealogy and You (the Attorney)

Fiduciaries Creating Genealogy for High Value Clients

Grandma’s Estate: Who Are the Heirs and Where is the Will?