When someone passes away, their belongings must be disposed of. If the decedent left a will, the property will go to the decedent’s beneficiaries that are named in the will. If the decedent did not leave a will, his (or her) assets will go to his next of kin as defined by Florida’s intestate succession statute. There are occasions in which one of the individuals entitled to the decedent’s property is missing. When it is time to distribute assets, that particular person is nowhere to be found. This type of situation is problematic for the decedent’s estate, for the personal representative, and for other beneficiaries or heirs. In order to ensure that your assets go to the individuals of your choosing, it is important for you to take steps in advance to avoid a missing beneficiary problem. Contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale heir finder lawyer who can help you avoid the problems associated with a missing heir or missing beneficiary. If you are a personal representative and are facing the challenges of a missing and beneficiary, we can help.Probate Process
In Florida, when someone passes away their estate will go through a process called probate. During probate the personal representative will complete the steps of winding up the decedent’s estate with the ultimate goal of distributing the probate assets to the beneficiaries that named in the will, if any, or to the decedent’s heirs. Probate involves the personal representative inventorying estate assets, appraising them, and paying any estate debts and expenses. Those debts may include bills that the decedent had at the time he (or she) passed away, as well as expenses related to the administration of the estate. Once your debts are paid the personal representative will distribute any assets that remain.
As an experienced Fort Lauderdale heir finder lawyer will explain, if one of your beneficiaries or heirs is difficult to find, there may be a delay in asset distribution to everyone.Consequences of a Missing Heir
There are many reasons that a relative of a decedent may be difficult to find. It is not unusual for a testator to write a will at a relatively young age. Over the years family members and friends sometimes see each other less and move away. Friends and family may have a falling out and stop communicating. Regardless of the reason, it is important that the missing heir is found in order to close the estate.Avoiding a Missing Heir Problem
A missing heir problem is more likely to occur when there is no will and the decedent has few family members. In the absence of a will, a decedent’s assets will be distributed based on the Florida’s intestate succession statute. This requires that the decedent’s assets go to the surviving spouse, children, and other relatives. If the decedents does not have any close relatives, then the personal representative is put in the position of having to local distant relatives. This may be difficult.
The best way to avoid a missing heir problem is with careful advance planning with the help of an heir finder attorney in Fort Lauderdale. For example, writing a will and regularly updating it to ensure that your beneficiaries include individuals with whom you still have a close relationship will minimize the likelihood of a missing heir problem. Another strategy is to make sure your personal representative always has an updated list of contact information for your beneficiaries.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
A missing heir can cause a variety of problems for the quick and efficient estate administration process. While estate administration normally takes up to 12 months in Florida, a missing heir problem can extend the process. There are steps that you can take during your estate planning process to minimize the possibility that your estate will face a missing heir problem. The experienced heir finder attorneys serving clients in Fort Lauderdale at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates are here to help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.