How HeirSearch Mitigates Fiduciary Risk During Probate


By: HeirSearch.

When the beneficiaries named in a will, or the heirs in an intestacy are missing or unknown, it’s common to face complex logistical and informational challenges as you and your clients work to identify or locate them.

In particularly challenging cases, probate professionals may seek the assistance of a professional heir search firm that possesses the research know-how necessary to help them fulfill their fiduciary duty.

But did you know that there are two types of fee models that many firms offer? To fulfill your fiduciary duty as a probate professional and ensure that the estate’s lawful heirs receive as much of their entitled portion as possible, you should understand how “percentage-based fee firms” differ from “hourly-based fee firms,” like HeirSearch.

How Percentage-Based Fees Work 

Percentage-based “contingency fees” charged by many heir hunter firms are a source of angst for lawyers and law firms as they work towards identifying unknown heirs.

It is common for heir hunters to monitor probate filings with the goal of identifying intestate decedents with missing or unknown kin. These firms will conduct this research without the estate’s attorney’s knowledge, and often will not account for all the heirs. The heir hunters will then present the relevant parties with a contract quoting a percentage (typically one-third to fifty percent) of the value of the shares due to the heir in exchange for their signature.

These heir hunters usually do not reveal the inheritance’s source nor any related information, using this exclusive knowledge as leverage to get the heir to sign a contract – one that could force them to relinquish up to fifty percent of their share of the estate.

Legal and trust professionals considering percentage-based quotes from heir hunters should always be mindful of these facts before engaging them to locate missing or unknown heirs and that they may already be working behind the scenes without the knowledge of the estate administrator.

The HeirSearch Approach

For over 50 years, HeirSearch has operated in good faith as an hourly-based fee firm, believing in A Better Way to locate and identify missing heirs that rests on:

  • Reasonable, non-percentage-based fees
  • Authorized search services
  • A 97% success rate
  • Documented, court-ready reports
  • Worldwide, personalized service

This approach allows our clients to mitigate their fiduciary risk as our fees are always quoted in advance and determined by a set fee schedule based on the search type and its unique requirements. We never charge a percentage of the estate or initiate independent searches.

We have established reputable global connections and resources that aid us in accessing required information quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. HeirSearch can obtain documents following unique state requirements and procure verified records from many parts of the world.

At HeirSearch, we value our partners’ time and do our best to adhere to timelines established at the onset of our engagements. We provide consistent research status summaries outlining the progress of your search. Your final report will be court-ready, easy to read, and include supporting documentation that proves all relevant identities. If applicable, the report will also have a detailed ‘family tree’ customized with appropriate names, birth dates, and death dates.

How to Mitigate Fiduciary Risk During Probate?

Not all heir finder services structure their fees with the same methodology. Many providers assess their rate as a percentage of the overall value of the estate or missing heirs share due, creating risk for legal professionals with the fiduciary duty to ensure all heirs are located and for reasonable fees.

If you need to establish heirship while minimizing your fiduciary risk, HeirSearch can help.

As industry-leading forensic genealogy experts and heir finders, We Find Missing Heirs A Better Way™. Since 1967, we’ve completed tens of thousands of worldwide searches. HeirSearch’s professional researchers identify and locate missing heirs to an estate. We can help solve even the most complex probate cases, spanning multiple genealogical connections and geographies.

We are proud to offer no-cost, no-obligation consultations, court-ready documents, and reasonable, non-percentage-based fees. HeirSearch works exclusively with executors, administrators, trustees, fiduciaries, bank and trust officers, and their counsel to establish kinship for legal purposes.

Feel free to reach out with any questions — we look forward to connecting!

Phone: +1 (800)-663-2255

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This report is for informational purposes only and is intended only as a reference. HeirSearch does not endorse or recommend any of the products or services offered in the third-party articles or content contained within. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or effectiveness of the same and will not assume any liability related to the same. Additionally, nothing contained herein may be construed as legal advice. All offers are void where prohibited by law. Copyright © International Genealogical Search Inc. All rights reserved.