How To Find Missing Heirs

  • Estate Planning
how to find missing heirs | estate and probate legal group

When writing your will, you list all of your assets and the beneficiaries. It can be difficult for your executor to find and contact all the heirs. According to Justia, your executor must act with due diligence by reasonably attempting to locate and contact all the heirs. But what happens if they can’t find one of the beneficiaries? How does someone find missing heirs?

How to Find Missing Heirs

Whether you have 3 heirs or 30, they must all be contacted and told that they are a named beneficiary in your will. The executor can use many different ways to find heirs. They can:

  • publish a notice in a local paper
  • contact other relatives
  • search the last known address
  • search property records
  • use social media
  • hire a private investigator

That’s a lot of time and expenses for an executor to go through.

And if you never wrote a will, the probate courts have rules on distributing your assets if you die without a will (dying intestate). The probate courts must determine and find all heirs by Illinois Intestate Laws. Having the courts or the executor go through the trouble of finding your heirs can cause time, money and undue stress on your loved ones.

What Happens If An Heir Is Not Found?

If an executor cannot find an heir, they can approach the courts and display all the ways they tried to find the missing person. This also is true if the probate attorney has made all reasonable attempts to locate a beneficiary.

The court may rule in several ways:

  • They may have the executor establish a trust to hold the assets until the missing heir comes forward.
  • The courts may rule as if the heir has died and redistribute the assets.

But during this time, the other beneficiaries may have to wait for their distribution, and the estate remains open until the court makes a final ruling.

You can save people from this trouble by listing how to find each beneficiary in your estate plan.

Working With An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

When establishing your estate plan, one important item to remember is to leave information regarding how to find each beneficiary. Give the last known address, phone number or email address of each person listed in your will. You should update your will and estate plan every 3-5 years or with any life-changing event. At this time, you can update the beneficiary information list when you update your will.

An experienced estate planning attorney can help you include everything needed for a well-established plan.

Oak Brook Estate Planning Attorney

If you have questions about creating or updating your estate plan, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. To learn how to protect everything you have worked for and how to leave it to who you want, call us for a consultation at 630-864-5835.

Areas we serve: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties.

Justia – Searching for Heirs and Beneficiaries & the Legal Process