How To Find A Missing Heir In A Probate Case

Scrabble titles spelling out the word probate

Have you ever heard of people receiving an inheritance from a great aunt or other distant relatives they’d never heard about, let alone met? These instances are rather rare, but they do exist.

At times, people pass on without leaving behind any formal wills, and at times they do leave a will, but it poses more questions than it answers. One of these questions is that of missing heirs.


Missing heirs are basically unknown beneficiaries. There are multiple scenarios where you may hear these terms. For instance, a person may name a beneficiary in their will that is unknown to the immediate family. Or a missing heir may be an estranged relative. Alternatively, there could be missing heirs in the reconstructed family tree, where the tree was specifically built for the distribution of an estate. Or, you may come across a missing heir situation where there is an estate, but there’s no will and no next of kin.


In all of these situations, you’ll have to find the missing heir in order to proceed.


Here are a few ways to go about this.

Go Through the Available Documents

If you’re trying to find a missing heir, the first step is to review the will and testament carefully, along with any other presented documents. This way, you can confirm the name of the missing heir and any other details already mentioned in the will.

Unless you’re the executor yourself, you can identify the executor of the estate through the will as well, and they might be able to help with the missing heir situation. Additionally, the will can reveal other relatives, partners, and friends, and some of these people can also offer clues to the missing heir’s whereabouts.

Search Online on Your Own

We live in a digital age with many tools at our disposal. So, one of the first things you can try is finding the missing heir online. Before you start your search, gather as much information about the heir as possible. Ideally, this means their name, date of birth, and last known address.

Once you have some information, you can build it up from there. Try to find potential matches on social media platforms, or search using search engines. You may come across everything from news articles about them to their business website.

Alternatively, you could try a more conventional approach and put out ads, asking people to get in touch if they know someone that may be the missing heir.

Hire Professional Investigators

A professional investigator at work

Of course, the easiest and quickest approach is to let professionals handle the search. Many probate research companies offer heir locator services. You can get in touch with them and let them take over the search.

Heir search services are usually carried out by professional genealogists who can work with you to find the missing heir or rebuild a family tree to identify possible heirs before locating them.

If you’re struggling with a missing heir search situation, get in touch with us at DavisDNA And Family Research. We’ll review your case and let you know how we can help you out.