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Heir Law Forum

Experience Has Taught Us…

For generations courts have been concerned with “heir hunters” whose controversial business practices are the subject of critical scrutiny.

As soon as estates are filed where pleadings reflect that heirs may be either missing or unknown, then the heir hunters race to find the heirs before they are contacted by the administrator or anyone else who may be searching for them.

Heir hunters have been quick to tell heirs that administrators are in no hurry to find them while they’re busy taking their inheritance monies in legal fees. Heirs who were pursued to sign heir hunters’ percentage-based fee contracts have later felt they were the hunters’ prey as a result of an administrator’s failure to exercise due diligence within a reasonable period of time.

The rapid pace at which heir hunters must ply their trade has not always allowed for sufficient time to conduct accurate or thorough research, resulting in errors and omissions. When heirs refused to sign heir hunters’ contracts, the hunters have not disclosed those heirs existence to the administrators; consequently, the hunters’ intentional omissions have misled administrators to incorrectly distribute those uncooperative heirs’ rightful shares. Heir hunters have taken the position that their only responsibility is to the heirs who have signed their contracts.

Heir hunters’ swift actions when masked by their attorneys who appear to represent all the heirs have caught many administrators off guard. Later, administrators may be surprised to learn that those attorneys were hired by heir hunters to collect on claims filed on behalf of their contracted heirs.

Knowledgeable administrators have learned that it is certainly not in their best interest to rely upon potentially inaccurate or incomplete information that only serves an heir hunter’s business interests. Those administrators’ early decision to enlist the expertise of an investigator experienced in forensic genealogy has served to expedite proper notice to all the heirs.  The best possible conclusion for all concerned.

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