Probate administration is the creation, processing and execution of your will. If you have estranged or missing family members, your will may encounter some complications with its execution after your passing. Here is how your family or probate lawyer (like those at Davis & Mathis) will handle these unusual situations.
Tracking Down Estranged Family
A big part of executing your will is notifying your kin and heirs that you have passed away. While background checks may help your lawyer find your kin, your lawyer may employ the services of a skip tracer, someone who makes it their business to find people that do not wish to be found. The skip tracer will not only find your kin, but find them in any country in the world. Ergo, even if your heirs have moved to another part of the world and are as estranged as they can get, your lawyer will still be able to find them and notify them of your death.
The Reading and Execution of the Will and Arranging the Presence of Your Heirs
Not all heirs need be present for the reading of the will, but at least one or two should show up. Your probate/ family lawyer cannot execute the will or distribute assets if no one is able or willing to be present at the reading of the will. Those present act as witnesses and acknowledge the will's legitimacy, even if they have disagreements with it or plan to file claims against it. Your lawyer will make several attempts to get one or more of your heirs in the same room in order to read and execute the will. In some states it is now permissable to appear by video chat or by phone if the heir cannot be physically present, and your lawyer can also set that up as needed.
Distribution of Assets to Estranged Heirs
As long as your lawyer has located your estranged heirs and notified them of your death, and as long as there were other heirs present at the reading of the will, your lawyer can effectively transfer property and assets without your estranged heirs' presence. Money easily transfers into waiting bank accounts, while property deeds are switched over into the heirs' names or sold, if your heir prefers to do so. As for items of value, such as art or cars, they may be shipped or stored until your heir decides to sell them or pick them up from your lawyer. If your other heirs do not contest any part of the will, everything usually transfers over smoothly.