The search for heirs

The search for heirs

Every year, some 350,000 estates are liquidated by notaries. Nevertheless, for 3% of them, the search for heirs can be particularly difficult and leaves the framework of the obligation of diligence. Therefore, we’re here to tell you about how to carry out the search of the heirs.

The notary

The notary is traditionally in charge of establishing the act of notoriety necessary for the liquidation of the estate. His investigations generally consist of cross-checking the various pieces of information brought to his attention (testimonies, family record book, marriage contract and other official documents) to prove the family relationship of the designated heirs with the deceased and establish their estates.

Therefore, the notary is the first professional required to establish and control the devolution of the estate. However, certain conjunctures may make it particularly difficult for him to honor. Obstacles to identifying and locating the most frequently reported heirs include:

  • Absence of domiciliation of heirs
  • Chaotic family configurations (blended or geographically dispersed families, for example)
  • Lack of time
  • The lack of human resources to mobilize on the file
  • Traditional non-probative research methods, etc.

The duty of diligence of the notary is limited to reasonable investigations. In fact, if research fails, the notary has a direct and legitimate interest in the identification of heirs or the settlement of the estate. He is entitled to send a mandate to a third-party professional specialized in the search for heirs: the estate genealogist.

The estate genealogist

Representative of a relatively unknown professional field, the estate genealogist is charged by a prescriber (usually a notary) to confirm the uncertain devolutions and/or to locate the heirs to allow the settlement of the succession. Essentially, they also trace ancestry.

To ensure successful research, he supports his research on neighborhood surveys, departmental records, military registers, and so on. Long-term work, which will take up to several years of investigation in the most extreme cases.

The private detective

The private search agent or private detective is likely to be mandated by the family of the deceased, the notary or anyone with an interest, to participate actively in the search for heirs and assigns involved in the estate. This branch belongs to the field of searching for missing persons. Like the genealogist, his performance is subject to fees.