As an executor, you receive several duties and tasks to complete as you work to administer and close the estate of your loved one. You will gather assets, pay bills and taxes and distribute property. You will also have one vitally important task to complete -- locate all heirs identified in the will and all heirs-at-law.
This can't be that difficult. Right? Well, it could be a challenge if you do not know everyone who may be considered a legal heir. Even if you do know who everyone is, that does not necessarily mean that you know where each individual currently resides.
Before beginning a search for someone you can't readily locate, make sure you have some way to document your search. This may come in handy if you do not find the person and need to show the court that you made diligent efforts to locate him or her. When you begin your search, it may be a good idea to follow the steps below:
- Try to find any paperwork regarding the heir you are attempting to locate. The following documentation could prove useful, or at least a place to start:
- Marriage, birth and death records
- Correspondence between family members
- Lists of family and friends and their contact information
- Get the word out through social media and start looking for the individual on social media. Most people have a profile these days, or at least someone close to them does.
- Ask family members and friends of the person you are attempting to locate. For instance, if you find out where he or she used to work, you could ask former co-workers if they know anything about the individual's whereabouts.
- Doing a general internet search could yield important information as well. Google, Bing and Yahoo! may lead to the person or to someone else close to the person.
- Public records can provide a great deal of information about a person.
If these efforts appear easy for you, then that would be the end of it. However, if you have trouble finding the person or are not sure where to turn, it may be a good idea to find some help in locating all of your loved one's heirs. Being an executor has it challenges, and it may be a good idea to have some help not only with this, but also with all of the other tasks required of you under Texas law.