As administrators we are held accountable with respect to performance of our duties, including exercising due diligence in a reasonable effort to properly notice all the heirs.
It is important to recognize that heir hunters who operate without our authority are not accountable to either us or the Court. Their only duty is to collect monies for those persons who have signed their percentage-based fee contract.
Attorneys hired by heir hunters to represent alleged heirs are not concerned with proof that their clients are heirs. However, as administrators we should require such evidence. We should also be aware that heir hunters’ attorneys may produce a limited selection of documents that only serve to show an apparent relationship between their client and the subject decedent. In cases where claims have been filed on behalf of alleged heirs it may be prudent to have an expert review any documentation submitted in support of those claims and compile any additional evidence of heirship that is deemed necessary. In many cases persons who were alleged to have been heirs were disproven and other rightful heirs were found.
As administrators we are expected to hire experts such as accountants who provide us with their valuable expertise. When we engage the services of an expert investigator who will ensure that we distribute correct shares to proper heirs then we can be reasonably certain that all heirs have been accounted for.