What Happens When An Heir Can’t Be Found?


By: HeirSearch

Settling an estate can be challenging. An executor is responsible for such tasks as; settling debts and claims on the estate, getting appraisals on real estate, dividing the estate as per the will, and locating and notifying heirs and beneficiaries. As you might imagine, this work can be time-consuming.

One particularly challenging situation occurs when an heir is missing and cannot be located. An unfindable heir can delay an estate’s closing and frustrate beneficiaries anticipating the distribution of assets.

It is the executor’s responsibility to locate and notify heirs and beneficiaries. If there isn’t a will, it complicates determining the rightful heirs of the estate. Depending on state laws, this can extend as far as second cousins three times removed and potentially children born outside of marriage.

An executor may be liable for not making adequate inquiries to locate proper heirs, and casual searches can be deemed insufficient to satisfy this liability. To avoid a challenge to their administration by a disappointed heir, or from the court, the executor must demonstrate that they have made reasonable and thorough inquiries.

What Happens When An Heir Is Unfindable?

What can an executor do if they cannot find an heir through conventional efforts? Typically, they engage a forensic genealogy firm to run a thorough, court-recognized search to establish kinship for legal purposes.

Since 1967, HeirSearch has used forensic genealogy, an analytical research method, to complete tens of thousands of worldwide searches. Our extensive experience and resources mean that we solve cases of all complexities, domestically and internationally.

Thanks to years of specialized education, training, and experience, our research experts are highly qualified to find missing heirs and beneficiaries. That hard work pays off, too—HeirSearch is proud to have achieved an average success rate of 97%.

We help clients fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities in providing notice or distributing funds to heirs by supplying current contact information or the results of our due diligence search efforts in estate or trust matters.

When a search concludes, we send detailed reports, including family tree charts, supporting documentation, and affidavits, to help our clients settle matters as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible.

Do You Need Help Finding An Unfindable Heir?

At HeirSearch, we offer no-cost, no-obligation consultations, even if you are not planning to start a search right away. Feel free to call us with any questions you might have: +1 (800)-663-2255

As the top forensic genealogy experts, we’ve seen it all. We can help.

Contact us today for a free quote!


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.