When Does Estate Administration Take So Long? Part 4
In my post last week, I covered the complications that can arise if there is no personal representative named – either because there is no will or because none of the named executors in the will are able to serve. This week I discuss the difficulties when there are no clearly identifiable heirs. We must then consult the intestacy laws which establish who are entitled to a share of the estate.
The law establishes the categories of heirs and the order in which they take. Identifying those individuals however, isn’t always easy. The decedent may have had children from different relationships, some of whom he may have lost touch with. When there isn’t a spouse or children it can get trickier.
More distant relationship such as aunts and uncles and cousins can be especially problematic to identify. A family member from the maternal side of decedent’s family, for example, may not have knowledge of family members on the paternal side. The family tree on each side must be identified because they have equal right to share in the estate.
There is not a central database that can be consulted to identify all the heirs. Professionals may need to be hired to locate heirs. Searches must be methodical to capture all possible heirs and that can take some time depending on how distant the relations get from the decedent. Verification by birth certificates or other documentation is necessary. Ensuring that all the rightful heirs are identified is critical to making sure the administrator performs his or her job.
Taxes must also be considered in the estate administration process. Next week I’ll cover that topic.