Locating missing heirs to estates has its challenges. I hope that all attorneys know who the heirs are before they file the probate.
Sadly, there are attorneys who file their client’s probate cases with ‘no known heirs’. This action alone costs each heir a chunk of money and it will cost the attorney and the heirs a lot of time. Here in the United States heir-search firms hire individuals to go through probate filings at courthouses across the country. These people target big city courthouses as there is a really good chance of them locating a filing in the probate office with ‘no known heirs’. The heir search firm will then slam together the research results and contact the living heirs they have identified. As each heir is located the individual has to sign over a percentage [typically 25 to 50%] to the heir search firm.
Not all heir-search firms work within the law. Recently Kemp & Associates has been found guilty of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. You can read the newspaper article here: http://www.sltrib.com/news/4249645-155/utah-company-officer-charged-with-criminal
There are many of us working in the probate field that charge by the hour. This allows each heir to receive their full portion based on their relationship to the deceased. Many attorneys have me do this work before the probate is filed. The heirs will never hear from the heir search firm. In my experience, if I do the work before the probate is filed the heirs can be identified and located within 3 months. If an heir search firm becomes involved I have yet to have one ready to process inside 13 months. And their reports to the court are abysmal at best. Each of the submissions I’ve reviewed lacked citations or a real written report. They made copies of documents such as birth, death, and obituaries along with census records and then submit these documents as a ‘report’.
If you have questions about locating missing heirs to your client’s estates please contact me. I’m more than happy to help you understand my process to locate the missing heirs to your case.