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Genealogy, Asset search and Will Searches

Probate research is a critical aspect of the probate process that potentially involves the investigation of Wills, estates, assets and family lines to identify rightful heirs and distribute assets accordingly.

What is Probate Research?

Probate research involves tracing and locating the Will, legal heirs and assets of a deceased person to ensure the proper distribution of their estate. This process can include genealogy research, asset research and a Will search.

Probate Genealogy

Probate Genealogy refers to the study and tracing of a person’s ancestral lineage and family history. In probate research, genealogy research can be an essential component of the process. Probate genealogy involves investigating and establishing the deceased person’s family tree, identifying their relatives and determining the legal heirs entitled to inherit the estate. Genealogy research may include examining birth records, marriage certificates, census data and other historical documents to piece together the family connections accurately. By conducting thorough genealogy research, probate researchers can ensure that all rightful heirs are identified and included in the distribution of assets, preventing any disputes or uncertainties in the probate process.

Under What Circumstances are Probate Genealogy Services Required?

A genealogist may be required in probate cases when there is a need to trace the family of the deceased individual. This can be particularly relevant when the deceased died intestate (without leaving a Will) and the estate needs to be distributed by the laws of intestacy and there are no known or easily identifiable heirs. Probate genealogy also comes into play if there are named beneficiaries in a Will that cannot be easily identified or traced, or when there are potential beneficiaries who may have been overlooked or excluded from the initial distribution of assets. The services of a probate genealogist are also employed when someone is making a claim to an unclaimed estate and they need to evidence a claim to an estate.

The services of a genealogist in probate research involve conducting thorough research into the family history of the deceased individual. This may include gathering information about their immediate family members, such as spouses, children and parents, as well as more distant relatives, such as siblings, cousins and grandparents.

By tracing the family tree and identifying potential heirs, a genealogist can help ensure that all eligible beneficiaries are included in the probate process. They can also provide documentation and evidence to support the claims of these beneficiaries, helping to establish their rightful inheritance.

In addition to locating and identifying heirs, a genealogist can also help resolve any disputes or conflicts that may arise during the probate process. They can provide expert testimony and evidence to support the legitimacy of certain claims or refute false claims made by individuals seeking to benefit from the estate.

Will Search

A Will search is an integral part of the probate research process. It involves locating and examining the last Will and testament of the deceased individual. The purpose of a Will search is to determine if the deceased left a valid Will and to understand its contents.

Why is a Will Search Important?

If a Will is found after an estate has been distributed under the laws of intestacy, it can create a complicated situation. The laws of intestacy dictate how an estate should be distributed when there is no valid Will in place. These laws typically prioritise close family members, such as spouses, children and parents, as the rightful heirs to the estate.

However, if a Will is discovered after the estate has been distributed under the laws of intestacy, it may contain different instructions for asset distribution. In this case, the distribution of the estate would need to be revisited and adjusted according to the provisions of the newly discovered Will.

The process of distributing the estate according to the newly discovered Will can be challenging. It may involve locating and contacting the beneficiaries who were not included in the initial distribution, as well as resolving any potential probate disputes that may arise among the beneficiaries.

In some cases, if the assets have already been distributed and cannot be easily reclaimed, the beneficiaries named in the newly discovered Will may need to negotiate with the beneficiaries who received assets under the laws of intestacy. This negotiation process can be complex and may require legal assistance to ensure a fair resolution.

In summary, if a Will is found after an estate has been distributed under the laws of intestacy or an out of date Will, it can complicate the probate process. If there is a suspicion that a Will exists but it cannot be located, or there is a possibility that a Will has been located but a more up to date one exists a Will search is essential. If after an extensive Will search has been conducted and nothing is found administrators or executors can then apply for Missing Will Insurance which will offer protection should a Will show up further down the line.

Asset Search

An asset search, in relation to probate, refers to the process of locating and determining the value of the assets owned by the deceased individual. It is an important part of probate research and involves identifying all the assets, such as real estate properties, bank accounts, investments and personal belongings, that belonged to the deceased at the time of their passing.

The purpose of an asset search is to ensure that all the assets of the deceased are properly accounted for and included in the probate process. This includes identifying any hidden or undisclosed assets that may not be initially known to the executor or beneficiaries.

Asset searches are typically conducted by professional probate researchers or investigators who have expertise in locating and valuing assets. They may use various resources and techniques, such as public records, financial institutions and online databases, to gather information about the deceased’s assets.

Once the assets have been identified and valued, they can be included in the overall estate inventory. This inventory is used to determine the total value of the estate and to guide the distribution of assets to the rightful beneficiaries according to the instructions of the will or the laws of intestacy.

When is Asset Research Required?

Asset research may be required in probate under various circumstances. One common situation is when the deceased individual did not leave a comprehensive inventory of their assets or did not disclose all their assets in the Will. In such cases, an asset search becomes necessary to identify any hidden or undisclosed assets that may be part of the estate.

Another circumstance where asset research is needed is when there are suspicions or concerns about the completeness of the estate inventory. If the executor or beneficiaries suspect that certain assets have been intentionally omitted or concealed, an asset search can help uncover these assets and ensure that they are included in the probate process.

Additionally, asset research may be necessary if there are disputes or challenges regarding the distribution of assets. For example, if there are multiple claimants to a particular asset or if there are conflicting claims about the value of certain assets, an asset search can provide the necessary information to resolve these disputes and ensure a fair distribution of the estate.

Furthermore, asset research may be required if there are concerns about the financial stability or solvency of the estate. This is particularly important if there are outstanding debts or creditors that need to be paid off from the estate’s assets. An asset search can help determine the value of the assets and assess whether they are sufficient to cover the liabilities of the estate.

An asset search is crucial in probate cases to ensure that all assets are accounted for and properly distributed. It helps prevent any potential disputes or challenges regarding the estate distribution and ensures a fair resolution for all parties involved. Professional probate researchers or investigators with expertise in locating and valuing assets are typically engaged to conduct asset searches using various resources and techniques.

Why Choose a Professional Probate Researcher

Expertise in Asset Research

An experienced probate researcher will have a deep understanding of the various resources and techniques for conducting asset searches. They will know where to look and how to uncover any hidden or undisclosed assets that may be part of the estate. This expertise is crucial for ensuring that all assets are accounted for and properly distributed.

Knowledge of Genealogy Research

A qualified probate researcher will have the necessary knowledge and skills to conduct thorough genealogical research and trace the family tree accurately. This is essential for identifying all potential beneficiaries and ensuring a fair distribution of the estate.

Familiarity with Legal Processes

Probate research involves navigating complex legal processes and requirements. A well-qualified probate researcher will have a good understanding of the probate laws and regulations. This knowledge allows them to effectively communicate with legal professionals, understand the legal documents involved and ensure compliance with all legal requirements throughout the process.

Attention to Detail

Asset research and genealogy research require a high level of attention to detail. A skilled probate researcher will be meticulous in their work, leaving no stone unturned when searching for assets or tracing family connections. This attention to detail is crucial for ensuring that all relevant information is gathered accurately and that there are no errors or omissions in the final report.

Professional Network

Experienced probate researchers often have a vast professional network that they can tap into for assistance. They may have connections with other experts, such as appraisers or genealogists, who can provide additional support and expertise when needed. This network can be invaluable in complex cases or when faced with challenges during the research process.

Choosing a well-qualified and experienced probate researcher is essential for ensuring a thorough and accurate asset search, genealogy research, and will search. Their expertise, knowledge, attention to detail, and professional network can greatly contribute to a smooth and successful probate process.

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