The probate process can be extremely difficult. Not only are you dealing with the death of a loved one, but now you are forced to handle complex business matters related to the distribution of property. It is a stressful time made even more challenging when you cannot locate all heirs to the estate. The probate laws of Tennessee require notification to all parties with a potential interest in the estate. This means that you may have to locate an estranged sibling or a grandchild you have never met. When faced with the task of locating a missing heir, there are some actions you can take to assist in your efforts.
Ask family and friends of the deceased for assistance
It is a small world, and you never know how people are connected until you ask. Speak with family members and close friends about their last communication with the missing heir. Ask to see photo albums, birth certificates or death notices. Even if no one can provide a concrete location, they may provide a clue that gets you closer to the missing person’s whereabouts.
Utilize search engines and public records
In this highly connected world, Internet searches can prove extremely useful when trying to locate someone. There are numerous options to initiate a search, using a name, telephone numbers, or family member names. You can even conduct a search to determine whether the individual maintains a social media page. If a simple search does not garner results, consider looking into public records, like court files and law enforcement records. Many of these resources are easily accessed online.
Use newspaper and Internet advertising to expand your search efforts
An essential part of locating a missing heir is getting the word out that you are searching for him or her. This can be done in a number of ways:
- Newspaper ad. If you have a last known address, take out an advertisement in that area’s local newspaper.
- Social media post. Create a social media post with the heir’s picture and a contact information for yourself. Ask friends and family to share the post, which may help you reach a greater number of people.
Be sure to keep a record of all of your efforts and the results. If you are ultimately unable to locate the heir, you may need to demonstrate your attempts to the probate court.
Do not try to navigate the probate administration process alone. The Chattanooga probate lawyers of Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law have the knowledge and experience to help you locate missing heirs and meet probate requirements. We serve clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, and all the surrounding counties. Call us today at 423-756-7923 or complete our contact form to schedule your free consultation.