A probate genealogist or researcher is a professional who specialises in tracing missing heirs and proving their claim to the deceased estate. Also known as heir hunters, they have extensive knowledge about inheritance law and who is entitled to inherit in cases of intestacy.
Probate genealogists are appointed by solicitors, executors and personal representatives to find in the blanks and allow the estate to be officially wound up, even when there is no known next of kin. This includes:
- Finding missing executors named in a will
- Tracing heirs named in a will
- Tracing next of kin in intestate cases
- Finding rightful heirs according to intestacy law
- Finding missing documents, wills, assets and insurance policies
- Proving a blood relationships
- Verifying family trees
- Claiming the proceeds of the estate on behalf of heirs when it has been passed to the Treasurer
- Handling probate and estate administration
A probate researcher will have access to historical records, databases and search tools enabling them to find missing heirs quickly and efficiently. This may involve checking:
- Census data
- Electoral registers
- Births, marriages, deaths
- Probate documents
- Military or employment records
- Historical archives
- Overseas records
Searches can be lengthy and time consuming for those who don’t have the resources or experience. Often, solicitors give up and pass the estate to the Treasurer to be entered onto the Bona Vacantia. If it is not claimed within a certain time frame, the proceeds of the estate then pass to the Government.
With the help of a professional, some cases can be solved within days. The probate process can move forward and the assets of the estate can be distributed to the rightful heirs.
If you’re an executor or administrator and cannot locate relatives or trace rightful beneficiaries of the estate, a probate genealogist can give you swift resolution. It will save you the time, hassle and frustration of trying to conduct specialised research alone. You’ll also be more likely to succeed in your search.