25 February 2019

Modern Day Sleuth of Probate Heirs

What happens when a person dies and leaves no children or a spouse to inherit their estate? A probate is opened and heirs must be found.

When you say genealogist what comes to mind for most people are us silly people that like to research the dead. But there are other needs for a genealogist. My genealogy skills come in handy on more than one occasion. Not only am I a genealogist, but I'm also a paralegal for a local attorney, Robert R. Romero Jr. and I have had the privilege of using my genealogy sleuthing skills on more than one occasion.

The first time I was ever called upon to research a family was in a case where a man left no children. He had left everything in his will to his common-law wife. Unfortunately, she passed away before he did. His second choice to leave his earthly possessions to was his brother, who had also passed away before him. That's when I was given the task of researching his family.

In Idaho, if a person leaves no issue to inherit their estate, then the estate goes back to the person's parents. In this case, his parents were also deceased. Next in line would be his siblings. He only had the one brother who was also deceased. This is when the family tree started to grow and get very interesting. Now I needed to go back one more generation to find his parents siblings on both sides of the family. No surprise they were all deceased, but then the tree starts to grow roots and the lines start ending with second and third cousins of his who are still living.

What I also discovered in my research was that the deceased had a half-brother, whom he may have never known about because he called his brother his only brother in his will. This adds a whole new dimension to the disbursement of the estate. We ended up with twenty-two names in the deceased generation. Of course the deceased and his brother were already known to be deceased. As I researched the other twenty I found that only seven were possibly living. The degree of heirship would end there with their line, however, we would then need to find the heirs of the other thirteen. A handful of them also died having never married or had children, a small number had living children, but we could end there.

The court will then use my research to help determine who the heirs of this estate are. But before this goes to court each potential heir will be sent a letter informing them that they are a potential heir. After some time for them to respond the case will go to court where a determination will be made as to who the heirs are. I'm not sure how this case ended because I left the firm before the end of this case but enjoyed every minute of the research on this project. I was able to apply my true love and passion in my career.

Even at my current firm, Robert R. Romero Jr.  I have to help clients track down distant family that they have no idea where they are in order to let them know that they are an heir to an estate, or in some case research to determine if a family member who may have passed left any heirs.

Like they say, when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. There is no better way to work then to incorporate your passion into your career.

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks