Finding an Heir

Most people know exactly who they will leave their estate to when they pass away. If you have a spouse, he or she has the first right to your assets. After that, your children, relatives, and close friends may take precedence. You can organize your own will and apportion your property to the people you believe best deserve it. If you do write a will and file it, then you will leave behind a testate probate. In this case, the court will appoint someone to oversee the division of property, and after the funeral expenses, taxes, and any debts have been paid, your estate will be divided just how you wish it to be.

If you do not write a will, then your estate is considered intestate. This means that the court will apportion your assets according to a system which leaves everything to your spouse, or divides it between your children and grandchildren. Yet in rare cases, a person may not have a spouse, children, or any close relations to receive his or her fortune. If you are worried about the future of your estate and don't have a close relative to leave everything to, you may want to search for an heir.

You can find your heir a variety of ways. One option is to hire an experienced genealogical researcher. Oftentimes finding your heir will be an intricate, complicated process, which takes exorbitant research and time. A genealogical researcher can find an unclaimed asset and then conduct a genealogical search. They will probably use court records, contact information, old photographs, and a host of other connections to figure out just where your missing heir is located. Thanks to technology, all sorts of personal data are stored on computers. The company may also use genealogical records and contact friends, family, and neighbors to get information.

After the person has been contacted, you can settle on a fee with your genealogical researcher and the courts will approve your heir to inherit the fortune. Normally, the fees associated with a genealogical inspector are based on the percentage due that the missing heirs are paid. It normally comes directly from their share. That way the person who owns the estate initially doesn't need to pay anything. A genealogical researcher can also be an important asset to a probate court case, especially when family members or friends contest the will. Therefore, sometimes you will need to pay your researcher by the hour to appear in court or prepare affidavits.

If you decide to forgo hiring an heir-finder, then you can try to locate that person yourself. You may want to use the internet and do web searches to see if you can detect your heir. If you know his or her name, you may be able to locate him or her through sites like Google. You can also do searches on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn. You may want to ask friends, family members, or neighbors about your missing person. With the internet, you can locate nearly any address using a web service like MapQuest or Google Maps. You can also look in local and older phone books to see if you can find a telephone number for the person that you are seeking. Sometimes your heir is just a few clicks away.

If you have tried on your own, and determined that finding your heir will be like finding a needle in a haystack, then opt for the professional help. It is better to pay a little bit of money and find an heir that will benefit from your fortune then to leave an estate in the hands of the court. If you have no relatives, and do not locate an heir, than all of your hard work building up an estate will be sent to the state as escheat.